Christmas came a little early for 150 students in northern Ohio. Last week, Western Reserve Grace Brethren Church, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Macedonia, Ohio (Jason Haymaker, lead pastor), distributed donated items as part of their new Christmas Gift Drive outreach.
Courtney Whitten, a volunteer at Western Reserve, previously directed a Christmas gift program called Christmas Lane through the non-profit Emergency Assistance Center, where they collected and distributed over $50,000 worth of items for children birth–18 years old. Due to the center’s small size the gifts were stored in the gymnasium of Western Reserve. Volunteers from the church sorted the items into age brackets during their event Missional Family Christmas. On distribution day, families from the Emergency Assistance Center would come “shop” in the gymnasium at Western Reserve.
Due to the pandemic, this year Christmas Lane switched to distributing gift cards to families who visited the Emergency Assistance Center. Since there were no gifts from the center to sort this year, Western Reserve decided to host their own gift drive.
Executive Pastor Kevin Poest contacted counselors at the local elementary schools for names of families who could use assistance with gifts. They also partnered with an inner-city church, CityView, to give gifts to kids in their tutoring program and youth group.
A non-profit donated a substantial amount of items to the drive. Courtney listed the remaining 55 items on an online form where church members could sign up to purchase items for a specific child. Within two days of creating the list, every slot was filled. Members donated items such as toys, books, hoodies, art sets, and purses.
“It was so cool to see how quickly people rallied around these families and kids,” Courtney said. She was amazed at the generosity of so many people in such a short time.
Courtney is overseeing the sorting, wrapping, and distributing of the presents. Volunteers from the church will deliver most of them to the recipients’ homes. One elementary school is delivering the gifts to their own kids and the CityView items will be distributed by their pastor.
This is the first year Western Reserve has done this Christmas outreach, but they hope to continue it in the future.
[Connect]: Pray for the kids and families who were blessed by this gift drive that they would experience the Gospel through the generosity of their community. Send Courtney an encouraging note here.