Bluffton Self Help founder Ida Martin will be the grand marshal of today’s 40th annual Bluffton Christmas Parade in Old Town.
Mayor Lisa Sulka announced her selection of the nonprofit charity’s creator at the 5 p.m. Friday Christmas tree lighting ceremony outside Town Hall to a crowd of about 150 people, after singing of Christmas carols by the M.C. Riley Elementary School Chorus.
Martin, 83, of Bruin Road, then switched on the Christmas tree lights.
“I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year,” she said. Then she hugged Sulka, and the children present lined up to go see Santa inside Town Hall.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. today at Bridge and Prichard streets and will end by Oscar J. Frazier Park.
In a speech before revealing her pick’s name, Sulka talked about what makes Martin special.
“She was not the first person I met when I moved to Bluffton 18 years ago, but wherever I went, her name was always mentioned. Whenever you heard about a family in need of being helped, or if a home had caught fire, and the homeowners were being fed or put up for the night, then the next words you would hear would be the name of our grand marshal,” Sulka said.
“She was raised to believe that you should give back to others whenever possible. … Her family taught her the gift of giving, and she has never stopped to this day.”
Martin, a Savannah native whose family is from White Hall in Colleton County, brought her spirit of giving to Bluffton in 1979. She moved to the hometown of her husband, Jacob Martin, after his retirement as a Detroit police officer.
“Serving those in need in Bluffton became her passion and identity,” Sulka said. “Lines of people would show up at her backdoor looking for help, and for most of those years she was helping our community out of her garage and trunk of her car.”
With others’ help, Bluffton Self Help was born in 1987 to help working families and senior citizens in need of food and other emergency assistance.
“Share your soup with your neighbor,” Martin said after the ceremony. “My belief is what goes around comes around. If you’re kind to people, they’ll be kind to you.”
Contact reporter Frank Morris at 815-0813 or firstname.lastname@example.org