Small woman with a big heart keeps helping others

Liz Hall of Norwich, also known as Elizabeth Hall-Hurley, called to remind us that it’s Christmas time, and for the 26th year running she is organizing a huge party for local children in need. More than 200 kids will gather at Norwich Free Academy on Saturday the 14th to receive at least two gifts apiece, visit with Santa, play games and feast on pizza, cookies, soda and chips.

Hall wasn’t asking for anything in particular, but thought maybe we could do a short story to motivate those who “don’t know the meaning of giving.”

“Wherever things are needed, I do them.,” she said. “It keeps me going. You can’t save the world, but you can clean up the corner you live on.”

By her own admission, Hall, 75, has had a hard life. But she says she doesn’t have time to feel sorry for herself. She raised dozens of foster children in addition to her own six kids. In the past few years, she lost two of her sons, ages 48 and 50, to adrenal cancer, which has been passed on through the men in her family. She has 23 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren and says she continues to be the family’s “rock.” She has outlived three husbands, including Superior Court Judge D. Michael Hurley, who she says gave her the best three years of her life before he died in 2007.

Doing things for others gives her strength, said Hall, who makes it sound easy to open one’s heart to others. If she knows somebody who is hungry and doesn’t have a family, she invites them over for family dinner. If somebody needs a warm hat or pair of gloves, she pulls them out of a drawer, and voila, warm head and warm hands.

Hall and her daughter have recruited various “angels” from the community over the years to help out with the Christmas party. For the past few years she has relied on Dime Bank and the Knights of Columbus. Norwich Police have always been helpful, along with individuals in the community, including lawyers she met when she worked as a Deputy Sheriff at the local courthouse.

It’s easy to see how this tiny woman with a giant heart rallies people for her causes, big and small. She probably does not acknowledge that the word “no” exists.

But all she asked of us, after all, was just a short story to inspire others.

No problem, Ms. Hall. It’s our pleasure.

Happy holidays.

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