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Jefferson Award Winner: Stella McDowell, 'God's Gifts'

Stella McDowell, with 'God's Gifts,' is our latest Jefferson Award winner. (Pic: WPDE)

"I am here today with a special gift for you," said the Loris Santa.

Christmas may be over, but the Loris Santa is still giving gifts.

"You are the recipient for the January Jefferson Award," he said.

"She's a very caring woman. She loves people," said the Loris Santa.

He is talking about Stella McDowell.

"She helps people all year round. Not just one day, two days, but 365 days out of the year," said the Loris Santa.

Seven years ago, McDowell started the Facebook group "God's Gifts."

"I have learned, one, that there are a lot of people out there that we don't know about that need help," said Stella McDowell.

She was inspired when her sister fell on hard times, and turned to those online for help, and so many responded.

"And it's just blossomed from then on out," she said.

Now at more than 3,500 members, the online community is a place to ask for things like kid's furniture or diapers or a place to donate items. No buying or selling allowed.

"Without the donations coming in, there's no way it could be done," said McDowell.

But McDowell's work goes beyond the Facebook group.

"At Christmastime, our goal was to help the teenagers. A lot of organizations help the younger children," said McDowell.

She helped more than 125 families with gifts for teens, including people like like Amber Jordan, a single mom of three teens in Conway.

"They're going to be happy that they actually get something this year. Even thought it's not much, every little bit helps," said Jordan.

On top of the gifts, McDowell also managed to feed more than 100 families a holiday meal with all the trimmings.

But, she takes zero credit.

"With God I can...He does it for us," said McDowell.

This humble helper is our latest Jefferson Award winner.

To nominate a member of your community for the Jefferson Award, click here.

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