Gifts for Good: Bringing Christmas Joy with Dignity to the Community

Posted by John Stanley, External Ministries Pastor on Nov 29, 2022

Gifts for Good: Bringing Christmas Joy with Dignity to the Community

Piles of new toys, carefully arranged by age and type. Racks of warm winter coats. Parents ready for their turn to carefully hand-pick just the right purchases for their kids. Volunteers cheerfully wrapping each item for the recipients to open on Christmas Day. It's time for Gifts for Good, Chase Oaks' annual Christmas toy and coat drive at the Local Good Center. This year marks the tenth anniversary of this unique holiday ministry. Below, John Stanley, Pastor of External Ministries, shares more about the story behind the launch of this event dedicated to bringing Christmas joy with dignity to the community.

Many years ago, our church began to shift to a more external focus, and to get more involved in serving critical needs in our community. At that time, we partnered with a local organization that had a Christmas program to provide gifts for families who were most in need during the holidays.

While we experienced some good things out of that partnership, we also noticed something a little more serious, which was the fact that oftentimes, when we arrived at a home to deliver Christmas gifts, the fathers were not present. We found out that many of the fathers were still around and involved with their families, but they were choosing to not be present on that particular day. And that was because these men felt ashamed or embarrassed that they couldn't provide Christmas gifts for their families themselves.

So that started us thinking that there's got to be a better way to do this. How can we provide more dignity and more respect around Christmas gift-giving? So, we designed a program where we could have our own pop-up toy store for the holidays.

We already had relationships with some local schools, so we partnered with them to identify some families who were most in need. The partner schools invited those families to shop at our Christmas store.

To stock the store, we had Chase Oakers go shopping to purchase the latest and greatest items and the hottest gifts that kids are wanting during that time of the year. We also invited people to purchase new winter coats for the kids, too. The toys and games were dropped off at our store to be sold for about 10 cents on the dollarStaff and volunteers helped to prep the items, and families were invited to come and shop at a predetermined time.

The beautiful part about it was that we saw the mothers and fathers both show up for their time slot. Both parents were engaged in the shopping and Christmas gift-giving experience. Together they were able select the gifts they knew their children wanted, and we would wrap those gifts for free. Additionally, parents could pick out a free winter coat for each of their children. Then the parents would leave, load up their cars, and drive home to place those gifts under the tree themselves.

And I think what happened in each of those homes is that the parents together felt dignity, knowing that they actually paid for those gifts. They had some skin in the game, and they were able to legitimately provide Christmas gifts for their family.

We've done this for 10 years now—this is actually the 10th anniversary of opening our store. And I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, we feel like this is an incredible way for us to work with our local partners to identify and reach families in need throughout our community. We’ll continue to do that as long as it is helpful in giving dignity and joy to others during Christmas time.

Want to help make the holidays a little brighter for families at our partner schools? Find out more about Gifts for Good, here

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