This year was our best year ever in our new format for Making Christmas Dreams Come True. The bare stats are amazing in themselves. The stories we heard, moved our hearts.
How's it works.
Adopt a family.
We receive 20 family names in the greatest need from five elementary schools. The families fill out a form which lists the age, and sizes of each child up to twelve years old. The children also note their Christmas present wish list. We then code the families to protect their names and place a card in a blue envelop and place the envelope on white Christmas trees dotted around the Vineyard. People from the Vineyard and the community come and pick up an envelope. On the envelope it states: family of two, family of five etc. The inside card has instructions and the list of the age, sizes and present wish list. The people then shop for the children. Each child receives at least two presents and two articles of clothing. The gifts are returned in black bags with the code and family name attached to the outside. We then go though the presents, then place them in another colorful bag with name of school, family and code. When completed, we transport the bags to the schools where the counselors and principals then give the presents to the families.
The next level of need are families that just need a little extra help purchasing presents. We create tickets listing day, date, and time slot of the free store. The principals and counselors then give the tickets to the families in need. The families then come to the store and picked out presents for their children. All of the presents are located in a large decorated room placed upon tables according to age and gender. The boys on one side and the girls on the other side. The guides are our ministry partners who walk with the parent as they shop to help carry the presents and to listen then pray for the family.
Here are the stats:
One hundred families were adopted from five schools, and over three hundred and fifty families came to our Making Christmas Dreams Come True Store. Children represented were well over one thousand twenty children. More than two thousand fifty presents were given, some of the children received five and one family of seven received two bikes, plus presents.
We also received a much needed boost from Catholic Social Services, they just happened to show up on the night with new, yes new clothing when we needed it most. It was the night when over fifty parents with children showed up all at once at 6pm.
Throughout the week over sixty volunteers served over the four days. Others gave presents, and funding. Some shopped and purchased presents, others helped set up and prepare the room and prepared snacks.
All in all it was an amazing time to connect with parents in their time of need and to offer God's love in a practical way. We also offed prophetic, healing, comfort prayers. There were too many tears, hugs, and parents of twins to count, and I believe twelve years ago every mom had a boy.
One sample story.
One young mom popped in with a relative and her child. We brought the little guy to the kidz zone which provided an energy outlet, with a bouncy castle, crawl through tubes and a creative crafts area. Our two guides then helped the mom and listened to her story.
So we loaded up a shopping cart from our food pantry. When we pushed the cart into her view she became so overwhelmed with emotion she just sobbed and sobbed. The car was loaded, and her presents secured, we all hugged and she drove away.
Stories like hers were repeated often over the four days.
It doesn't take much to love the people Jesus loves. It just takes a little planning, a great bunch of people who say I'm in, and a great God who graciously pours out His presence upon the hurting.
Rick Rusaw states in his book The Externally Focused Church: Good deeds done with great love, creates good will, that opens hearts to the good news. It's true. It was our privileged to serve and care for our community Making Christmas Dreams Come True.
We are more than grateful for James Capital Alliance who majorly funded the project. Each school served received a $200 check to help children in need from James Capital Alliance.