OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Sometimes simple things can be so much more. One humble woman has turned a gas station into a second home for many in Ocean Isle Beach.
To most, the Minuteman #14 in Ocean Isle Beach just looks like a place to gas up your truck, but on one day out of the year, it's somewhere you can come to get fuel for your heart. And get this: it's all for free.
"It's like home, really," customer Wayne Taylor said. "Everybody's like brothers and sisters here, mom and dads. Everybody knows everybody, and it's just like good ol' country."
And for the past four years, store manager Betty Brown has made a good ol' country Christmas dinner.
"It started out the first year with three turkeys, two hams and the fixin's," Brown said. "This year is nine turkeys, seven hams, two pork loins and a case of green beans, sweet potatoes and dressing."
She invites all her customers and the community. Brown funds the growing feast by collecting cans throughout the year. As her Christmas gift, her husband pays for whatever the cans don't cover.
Brown said she doesn't need a thing, and her only Christmas wish is for the community to be together.
"Don't matter where you come from, what kind of work you do," Taylor said. "She takes you in just like you was her own child."
Brown's own child Jay e-mailed us all the way from his home in Nebraska to tell us about his mother's generosity.
"My mom has the heart of a giant and always puts others before herself," he wrote. "Despite my father being diagnosed with bladder cancer and her with diabetes, she does not ask for anything in return... They are certainly my heroes."
Her real family and her extended family love her and her cooking.
"It takes a community to grow a child," Betty Brown said. "It takes a community to be a family. That's it."
And thanks to Betty, this community is a family... at least one day a year.
Brown never asks for money and does not accept donations either. If you'd like to help, all she asks is that you bring a few cans to raise money for next year's dinner.