When Ginny Gully, Quincy, Ill., built her new home, she dedicated a large room to her collection of Precious Moments figurines.

When Ginny Gully, Quincy, Ill., built her new home, she dedicated a large room to her collection of Precious Moments figurines.
Paula May, La Verne, Calif., has been an avid Precious Moments collector for 30 years, collecting both the figurines and the greeting cards.
The two are friends through Sam Butcher's signature creations and were among the more than 500 collectors who gathered at the Precious Moments Chapel last weekend for the annual Precious Moments
Family Reunion.
This year's reunion celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage.
"I started with the love of the figurine, but then it turns into the love of the people you meet through Precious Moments, and Sam of course," Gully said on Saturday. "It's like an extended family and I was one of those lucky ones with Chuck and Paula that went to the Philippines that first year when Sam bad about 20 of us collectors over there. It's like a family reunion, that's why we come back."
Collectors filled the visitors center and attended events at different locations on the Chapel complex and throughout Carthage.
Many stayed at the Precious Moments Best Western Motel, where some rooms turned into small shops, where collectors traded, bought and sold from their collections.
One of the highlights for Gully was the dedication and groundbreaking of Timmy's Tower, a bell tower that will be built adjacent to the famous Precious Moments Chapel in honor of Tim Butcher, the artist's son who died a few years ago.
"It was moving, it's sad that Sam has to go through such hurt," Gully said. "Nobody should lose a child but like he says, in his deepest sorrow is when he's most creative."
Paula May said she's met dozens of people she now calls long-time friends while attending these reunions.
"I love Precious Moments, and like Ginny said, now it's about friends and we just have a wonderful time," May, who attended with her husband, Chuck, said on Saturday.
"I started out because I love the figurines and their inspirational messages and then when I started meeting the people that collected them, then that became very important," Paula May said. "We're all friends, we look forward to coming down here all the time because we're going to see each other."
May said she is a member of a club in Covina, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, called Precious Moments and Friends.
"We're celebrating our 30th anniversary and tonight we're going to have a party on the hotel lobby," May said.
She said she's been to Carthage many times and enjoys taking in the other sights around town, like the historic Jasper County Courthouse, the Victorian homes and the Stations of the Cross park on Fairview Avenue.
"At Christmas, we're back and we always drive through, we call it the Vietnamese college, but the trail of lights," May said. "And one time we were at Red Oak II, and Lowell Davis told us about the Stations of the Cross. We always look at the courthouse, as a matter of fact, yesterday we were down there taking pictures. We go all over. The Boots Motel, I read all about those ladies restoring the Boots, so we took a tour of that this time."
The event ended on Sunday.