J.D. Hope is known for the fried foods he and his family prepare at Jo-Joe's Wings to Go on Whiskey Road.
What some of Mr. Hope's customers don't know is that he also has a knack for writing poetry. Now, he's found a way to marry the two.
Inspired by his religious beliefs, Mr. Hope wrote a poem this month titled The Greatest Gift of All, a five-stanza tribute to the meaning of Christmas.
He's selling framed copies of the poem at his restaurant and giving the proceeds to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which supports Southern Baptist missionaries.
"There are so many people who get so caught up - Christians and everyone else - that they sometimes lose sight of what Christmas is all about," Mr. Hope said. "There are people out there who may not have something for Christmas."
The poem wasn't his first. Mr. Hope wrote a poem in 1994, Have You Ever Had a Christmas, about a child waking up Christmas morning without any toys under the tree.
He wrote it to inspire his co-workers - Mr. Hope is employed at Savannah River Site - to donate to the Marine's Toys for Tots program. The poem has been printed every year since in an SRS newsletter that announces the toy drive.
Donations have increased every year, and Mr. Hope said he would like to think his poem had something to do with that.
"It says a lot about the people who are out here," he said of SRS employees.
Mr. Hope is selling framed copies of Have You Ever Had a Christmas, too, and has raised about $450, surpassing his goal of $300.
He says he feels inspired by the sales, and plans to keep on writing.
"It's given me a blessing," Mr. Hope said. "I've never felt as good as I've felt (this holiday season)."
Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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