Church gives the Gift of Love
Published 10:00 am Saturday, December 24, 2016
LaGRANGE – First Baptist on the Square’s congregation showed a heavy dose of Christian love this year by giving parents some much needed assistance to make Christmas a joyful time for their families with the Gift of Love.
The Gift of Love event was put together by more than 150 volunteers led by the church’s preschool director, Speri Lowery, who hoped that the event would give local parents in need the chance to play a major role in making their children’s Christmas dreams come true.
“Gift of Love was a way for the church to serve the community in the Biblical model,” said Lowery. “The Biblical model for helping is to help but to also allow people to help themselves, and so… Gift of Love gave an opportunity for the families to come and actually shop for their own children, but at a greatly reduced price.”
The “store” at the event had items available for purchase for $1, $3 and $5 amounts with a maximum purchase of $8 per child. Items that would have retailed for under $15 cost $1 in the shop; items that would have cost $16 to $30 cost $3; anything that would have retailed for more than $30 cost $5. Children were also allowed to pick out a free gift for parents at no cost.
“We had everything from simple basic toys to tablets, bikes,” said Lowery. “It was like Toys R Us at First Baptist. …And while the parents were shopping the children went to the kids’ zone, and they got to shop for mom and dad, so they got to pick something for mom and dad – and those items were no charge to the children. They wrapped their own presents for their mom and dad, and then they went and made gingerbread houses, made ornaments, got to hear a little bit of the Christmas story.”
All of the gifts for the shop were donated by members of the church and other members of the community who were able to purchase items for the event through an Amazon wish list. The church also provided snacks and family Christmas photos to the families who participated in the event.
“That was the idea behind the event, that we would allow the community to come in and be a part of their children’s Christmas,” said Lowery. “… We served 40 families and approximately 150 children with our Christmas this year, and then we also served 38 children from the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home throughout the state.”
The event was invitation only, and families who participated were chosen from the church’s partner school – Whitesville Road Elementary School – as well as some families with students at Franklin Forest and families that were identified though other outreach programs. The idea for the program was new to the church, but the idea came from a member of the church family.
“It was brought to us by one of church member’s son who lives in Colorado, and their church (Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs) did this,” said Lowery. “He brought the idea up to his parents… and the lady who runs the program out in Colorado actually came and talked to us about it and brought us a bunch of stuff to kind of introduce us to the concept of how it is supposed to work.”
The church considered the event a great success and is excited to have had a positive effect on the community by giving the Gift of Love.
“It was just an environment of love, joy and Christmas,” said Pastor Cade Farris.
Reach Alicia B. Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.