Ann Marie Langford, left, and Betty Clyde Jones, far right, present Max Cullum with the Book of Golden Deeds Award during Exchange Club at Lion Hills Center Thursday. The club gives the award annually as a way to recognize one of the area's tireless volunteers. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
January 26, 2018 10:40:20 AM
Columbus resident Max Cullum always told his children to leave places better than they were when they arrived -- something he apparently has practiced all over volunteer sites in Columbus, from serving food at Loaves and Fishes to repairing elevators at First United Methodist Church.
Because of his years of quiet community service, the Exchange Club of Columbus awarded Cullum with the Book of Golden Deeds award at its weekly meeting at Lion Hills Thursday. Cullum, who is not a member of Exchange Club, had no idea when his wife convinced him to accompany her to the meeting that he would win an award the club gives annually to little-known volunteers throughout the community.
"Who (were) they talking about?" he joked after the meeting.
Born in Kemper County in 1939, Cullum has lived in Columbus since his children were students in Columbus Municipal School District in the 1970s. He was an avid supporter of public schools, Exchange Club member Betty Clyde Jones told the club. Cullum also served in the United States Army and Mississippi National Guard.
Over the years, Cullum has volunteered time with Meals on Wheels, Salvation Army, Beacon Harbor in Greenwood, Habitat for Humanity, Loaves and Fishes and more, Jones said.
"He's always the first one there and the last one to leave," she said.
But Jones particularly focused on Cullum's work at Franklin Academy where he helps with the Backpack Ministry, a program in which volunteers fill backpacks with food for children who may not get meals over the weekend. He manages the amount of food, which can be anywhere from 40 to 50 cases, and occasionally pitches in with small repairs at the school as well.
"Sounds corny, but he is magic," Franklin physical education teacher Terrie Gooch said. "... If something needs to be done, it is done."
Jones also focused on Cullum's work at First Methodist where, in addition to serving on committees, he has done everything from drive elderly members to church to painting and repairing wheelchair ramps. He also volunteers with the Wesley Foundation, where the students affectionately named the elevator "The Max," Jones said.
Cullum said he was "blown away" by receiving the award.
"It's something you never expect," he said. "And you know, I don't see that I've done that much. God's done it through me."
Exchange Club presents the Book of Golden Deeds award every year to a different community member who may not be otherwise recognized for hours of volunteer work.
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