By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – It was fitting that the wreaths and ribbons and Christmas garlands were put up in honor of little Victoria Barron, because she loved nothing more than to dress up pretty.
“She loved princesses, and even when her hair fell out, she had to have a scarf to match her little dress,” said Victoria’s father, Michael, sitting in the parlor of the Tupelo Children’s Mansion on Friday.
Across the 40-acre campus, wreaths were pinned to the outside of doorways, and evergreen garlands, tied with red ribbon, wound their way up light poles and columns, splashes of color and hope in a gray, winter landscape.
Barron and his wife, ReDena, had provided the decorations in memory of their daughter, who succumbed to cancer nearly two years ago when she was just 5.
Upstairs, the footsteps of boys and girls, residents of the mansion, sounded on the floor as they attended class.
“Abandoned, abused, neglected. Some get adopted, and some choose to live here permanently,” said Annette Tomlinson, coordinator for the residential home that’s served children in crisis for 57 years. Today some 40 children live in the Mansion.
Like kids at Christmas, ReDena and Michael had been anxious during their drive from their home in Abilene, Texas. They brought with them a gift of $3,000 they’d collected from benevolent souls who’d wanted to contribute to any cause in Victoria’s name.
“Lillian,” as only her father called her, certainly wasn’t an orphan, but the Children’s Mansion is known throughout the United Pentecostal world.
Somehow, Michael said, helping children at Christmas seemed a fitting tribute to his daughter.
The Barrons figured to spend the remaining money from their new, non-profit, called “Victoria’s Friends,” on groceries for a Christmas day feast for the Mansion kids.
First, though, they’d throw a big pizza party Friday night.
“Children are beautiful,” said ReDena. “It’s hard, but, with God’s grace, you can go on with life. You can do it because you have to.”
Contact Galen Holley at 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org