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Nook Day is growing
Event seeks to comfort all people dealing with losses
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Mable Campbell, the grandmother of the late Antionne Diago “Nook” Hairston Jr., lights candles for participants in Saturday’s Nook Day candlelight vigil event at the Martinsville Middle School. Nook Hairston died in 2009, and Campbell has held the celebration of his life ever since. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Monday, April 21, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

After five years, Nook Day has grown to be about something more than its namesake.

The event is organized by Mable Campbell, whose 12-year-old grandson, Antionne Diago Hairston Jr. — known to his friends and family as Nook — died in November 2009.

“This is our fifth annual celebration since he departed from this world,” Campbell said. “Today is to be able to take a tragedy and turn it into something positive, not just for my family, but for the entire community. We try to empower and strengthen the lives of people so they can move forward after losing a loved one.”

The event, which took place Saturday at the Martinsville Middle School gym, featured choirs, dancers, face-painting, concessions, a basketball game, prizes and even a moon bounce.

It also included a candlelight vigil open not only to Nook’s family, but to anyone who had lost a loved one.

“It started out with Nook, but it’s growing,” Campbell said. “People are trying to find a way to deal with these situations. It’s hard; it’s painful when you lose a loved one.”

After losing her grandson, Campbell said, she was inconsolable.

“I asked the Lord to just please help me,” she said. “I didn’t see myself making it. I just said, ‘You’ve got to show me something.’ That’s when He showed me a vision of a building with a lot of people together, living, laughing and loving and embracing one another. I said, ‘Lord, this vision is too big. I can’t do it.’ He said, ‘I didn’t ask you to do it; I gave you the vision. I will put the people there.’ And He has done it for us.”

Tony Jones, a long-time friend of Campbell who has served as emcee at all five Nook Day events, said that he remembers the night of Campbell’s vision.

“She called me about 3 o’clock in the morning,” Jones said, “and she said that she had been laying in the bed for six months, grieving over her grandson, and she just got a vision that she wanted to do something to celebrate his life. She asked me if I would help her.”

Over the years, Jones said, Nook Day has turned into “a roaring success.”

“Every year, we have more and more people coming, more and more age groups,” he said. “We’re happy with what Nook Day has turned into. It turned into exactly what we envisioned. I thank all of the people who come out and support us.”

Avery Preston, pastor of Greater Love Ministries on Church Street, said Nook Day is an excellent opportunity to bring the community together and inspire young people.

“Anything that we can do to inspire people to take the right direction and take the right path is very beneficial to the whole community,” Preston said. “That’s why we try to support Mable and her vision for this. If we can reach just one, we’re blessed.”

Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins not only is a regular Nook Day attendee, but also a sponsor of the event.

“I think it’s growing in popularity,” Adkins said. “People know that on Easter weekend, the Nook Day celebration is going to occur. Mable Campbell really tries to engage the community.”

Campbell said the event has brought a great deal of healing to her family.

“God only loans our family members to us,” Jones said. “We have to enjoy them day by day.”


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