Save a spot for Teckla Shaylor in the pantheon of Christmas elves and spirits that liven up Vancouver.
Because if you smell something warm, sweet and festive on a cold day, it could be the 75-year-old cinnamon bread fairy making her rounds.
Each year for the past 20 years, Shaylor and her two daughters have baked about 100 loaves of the bread to hand out on the streets to those in need — or to those who just look like they could use a pick-me-up.
“I just enjoy helping people,” Shaylor said. “I wish I could do a whole lot more.”
Shaylor, the ninth daughter in a family of 13 children, grew up with a strong understanding of the importance of caring for and giving to others.
Besides handing out bread, she’s given haircuts to underprivileged kids and shut-ins, taken care of Alzheimer’s patients and helped countless people with small chores, such as driving them back and forth to the store or doctor.
She also can often be found giving hugs and sharing prayers with residents at The Ray Hickey Hospice House.
“Some of the people there, they don’t speak English, but they all understand a prayer and a hug,” Shaylor said. “I think it’s just important to be wherever you’re needed. So that’s what I try to do.”
Lucille Harwood, 88, a member of Salmon Creek Grange 849, said she’s constantly amazed by Shaylor’s generosity, kindness and upbeat nature. The Grange gave Shaylor its annual Honored Community Citizen award in November.
“She’s a lady that does so much benevolent work,” Harwood said. “She just does all sorts of things. She’s a very wonderful woman.”
Shaylor, a devout Christian, said it’s really her pleasure to help others.
“I just like to feel that I did the best I could with this day I was blessed with,” Shaylor said. “There’s always something you can do.”
The spirit of generosity is something she said she learned from her parents and she hopes she instilled in her family. Shaylor has two daughters, six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild, all in or near Clark County.
“I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for the love of the Lord,” Shaylor said. “Helping others, even sharing a kind word, is so important. People might think I’m a little crazy, but I love doing it.”
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