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Thursday, July 25, 2024

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BLANKETED WITH LOVE: Family of Bernal E. Smith II presents West Cancer Clinic with blankets

“Faith without works is dead.”

That verse from James 2 has always been a scripture my family lived by. And it’s part of the reason why our family – the Bernal E. Smith II family – presented the West Cancer Center in Cordova with 100 pink blankets.

This year, our family donated the blankets in honor of my grandmother, Emerle D. Smith, who passed away in February, as well as my late father Bernal E. Smith II, former publisher of The New Tri-State Defender.

Pictured (l-r): Tammy Coleman, Karen Smith, Brianna Smith, Cher Smith, Towanda Peete Smith and Keri Burnette. (Courtesy photo)

Keri Burnette, public relations manager for The West Cancer Center, graciously accepted the gift.  My mother, Towanda Peete-Smith, along with my dad’s sisters, Karen and Cher were on hand. So was I, as well as Tammy Coleman, founder of Tiara’s Teardrop.

“On behalf of the family of Mrs. Emerle D. Smith and Bernal E. Smith II, we continue the third year of presenting and the second year of purchasing the blankets for the patients at the West Cancer Center,” said Peete-Smith.

My grandmother played a vital role in sponsoring all 100 blankets last year. She had survived an earlier bout with breast cancer and was a prime reason why my dad partnered with Coleman in the first place.

“In 2015, I reached out to Bernal, whose mother was a cancer survivor,” Coleman said. “When I told him about my goal, he immediately wanted to help. He understood the peaks and valleys of watching a loved one battle cancer.”

Together, they came up with the idea of donating blankets to the patients of the West Cancer Center, and I had the pleasure of joining them for the first donation of blankets in 2016.

Unfortunately, that was my dad’s last year participating – he died in October 2017. But I was adamant about continuing the commitment, so I got my family involved and it has been an annual thing for us ever since.

“To continue donating blankets to the West Cancer Clinic-Wolf River is bittersweet,” said Cher Smith. “I’m truly honored to continue such a ­benevolent and thoughtful act.

“I can continue on this tradition in my mom and brother’s absence knowing they are with me in spirit,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to donate blankets to the patients of West Cancer Clinic–Wolf River for many years to come.”

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