By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
EGGVILLE COMMUNITY – Virginia Phillips normally spends her weekends doing household chores or working in her garden in Union Grove.
But this weekend, the 84-year-old spent her Saturday morning handing out $20 bills to people buying gas at Hardin’s Country Store. It’s the fourth year Phillips has done it.
Gas was hovering around $4 a gallon that initial year, and she wanted to do something to help Eggville, a small Lee County community off of Auburn Road.
“The first time – it was the funniest thing,” Phillips said as she held her brown leather wallet. “A lot of them thought it was a gimmick and wouldn’t take the money. … It wasn’t much, but as high as gas was and is, it helps.”
Saturday, she gave out nearly $600. She saved money throughout the year for her giveaway, plus she had donations from Sarah Harris, Tina Wilburn and Tasha Wilburn.
“She looks forward to this every year,” said Phillips’ daughter, Tina Wilburn. “She’s not thinking of herself today. She’s thinking of everybody else. She’s a very giving person and she loves it.”
Wilburn supported her mom Saturday by playing music with the Front Porch Bluegrass Rockers outside the store. Phillips, clad in a patriotic shirt and a red sequined hat, had a front-row seat to the show. She brought a lawn chair and stationed herself by the door so she could keep an eye on customers arriving to the gas pumps.
“I hope I don’t miss a car,” she said.
She got a lot of hugs and thanks because of her good will.
“Everyone’s appreciative, but especially these young people,” she said.
She surprised several customers because they thought Phillips did her gas giveaway on the Fourth of July.
“If I’d had known she was going to be here this morning, I wouldn’t have stopped,” said Linda Brock, who exchanged multiple hugs with her friend, Phillips.
A few people, like Dudley Hallmark of Mantachie, refused the money and asked Phillips to give it to someone who needed it more.
Overall, it’s a feel-good day for everyone. Phillips enjoys giving back to the community and the customers get a financial break on their gas fill-up.
“It makes everybody real happy,” said cashier Kelsey Byrd. “It’s such a nice thing of her to do. She’s such a sweet lady.”