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Thomson graduate helps friend in need

Christian love is what it's all about, says Haley Tam.

Miss Tam, a 2010 graduate of Thomson High School recently designed a T-shirt now on sale at a business in Thomson to help raise money for her 14-year-old friend, Margaret Beckum, who is battling cancer.

Miss Tam, who began classes at a prestigious art school in Savannah this week, said the idea to create a design for a T-shirt to help Margaret came from her mother, Kim, a first-grade teacher at J.A. Maxwell Elementary School in Thomson.

"I was working on a T-shirt design for her first-graders at the time," recalled Miss Tam.

Miss Tam already had been discussing with her mother what she could do for her friend, a freshman at Thomson High School and who is most active in The Drop Zone Youth Ministry at First United Methodist Church in Thomson.

"I knew I didn't want to get her a typical hospital gift," said Miss Tam, noting that's when her mother suggested designing a T-shirt for Margaret.

The next step was creating a design for the T-shirt.

"I decided to do a Bible verse on the back of it," said Miss Tam. "Margaret is such a strong Christian. You can just tell. As a Christian, she just stands out to everyone. She doesn't just talk about the love of Jesus; she demonstrates it every day."

Miss Tam said she conferred with Lee Anne Cowart, a Sunday school teacher and for whom she works part-time at Mrs. Cowart's business before making a decision on which Bible verse to use.

"We decided that James 5:15 fit Margaret to a tee as a Christian," said Miss Tam.

The verse reads: Prayers offered in faith will save those who are sick and the Lord will cure them .

That scripture is on the back of the T-shirt. The left front of the shirt reads: Praying for a cure

Miss Tam then devised a color scheme, coming up with vibrant colors so the T-shirt would stand out.

"I wanted to show her that so many of her friends and others are supportive of her and praying for her everyday," said Miss Tam, noting that being a part of it has been a humbling experience and made her stronger as a Christian.

Jane White, owner of Camellia City T's in Thomson, is another business owner proud to be taking part in raising money through the sell of the specially designed T-shirts for Margaret.

"I can't put into words what this has meant to me, personally, to be a part of," said Mrs. White. "Margaret is such a precious girl and we all think so much of her."

On the day Margaret's parents, Jennifer and Bill Beckum, were talking with a doctor about their daughter's medical condition, Margaret came into her shop to look around, said Mrs. White.

"She came into the store to look around and pick up a book bag that my daughter, April (Guerrero) had embroidered for her," added Mrs. White. "She also cut hair ribbons while she was waiting for her parents to get back from the doctor's office."

Thus far, more than 350 T-shirts have been sold to help raise money for Margaret Beckum.

"It's blown me away -- such a surprise -- to see that so many people care and they are showing Margaret that by buying the T-shirts," said Miss Tam, who presented Margaret with a check in the amount of $1,000 to help with expenses, etc. last Friday.

Since the T-shirts hit the market, Lamar Advertising in Augusta also has come out to support Margaret in her battle against cancer.

"We're very glad to be part of this and to bring awareness about cancer," said Sheila Sparkman, who serves as office manager of Lamar Advertising. "We're all praying for Margaret."

Lamar Advertising has erected a billboard, which features a photograph of Margaret and the design that Miss Tam created on the T-shirt. The billboard overlooks Dozier Heating and Air Conditioning on West Hill Street in Thomson.

Web posted on Thursday, September 09, 2010

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