Dignified Christmas Gifting

by | Oct 23, 2019 | Love Moves

Many of our Love Letters focus on the individual or family member who has courageously reached out to us and asked for help. The stories also may include true instances of God’s redemptive power and overwhelming grace. But how often do we forget that God grants each of us whether we think we’re in need or not that same grace?

Love INC’s Community Christmas has done that in a monumental way for many church-going volunteers since the first event four years ago. Volunteers serve at a weekend event, hosted at a local church that invites community members in need to shop and celebrate Christmas.

But Christmas is celebrated in a new way. In the past, community members have filled out forms, volunteers have shopped and wrapped gifts, and Christmas blessed a lot of families in a very transactional way. Christmas was a hand-off of gifts from someone who could contribute to someone who could not. It made the giver feel good but did not consider how it might impact the receiver.

God has since shifted the Christmas ministry to become a weekend community Christmas celebration for all involved. An arena that is dignified, non-judgmental and relational. What do I mean?

When a family attends, they contribute money towards the cost of the event either in dollars or volunteer hours. They are connected with a volunteer who shops with them- whether that takes twenty minutes or two hours. Families attending are invited to wrap gifts side by side with volunteers, kids are invited to shop for their parents and do crafts, and Christmas music fills the building. There are volunteers loading gifts while other volunteers are enjoying hot chocolate and getting to know local families who make the choice to come shop.

The first year we transitioned to this relational endeavor, we had a father who seemed upset ask to speak to the person in charge of putting the event together. He pulled a staff member aside and with tears in his eyes said, “You have no idea what it meant for me to take my wallet out in front of my family and provide for them. Thank you.” The element of dignity had been added back into this ministry and people had noticed. Dignity is now a standard we strive for in every ministry area.

When all families have left, just the volunteers remain. Each of the families who shopped has no idea the impact they’ve left on each volunteer’s mindset, perspective and ultimately, heart. The stereotypical “poor” person has vanished from their biases. The “assuming-the-worst” or “it was their choices” mentality can no longer be used as easily.

The volunteers are now connected to a person, a real human being made in the image of God, who has a story- a real story- that involves injustice that many of us may have never experienced. The door has been opened to a new relationship that includes depth and more than a quick transaction. The relationship blesses every volunteer with an empathy they never knew was missing from their lives.

Many of those volunteers courageously take the next step to journey with someone long term. Whether it’s through Love INC or another ministry, the “stranger” no longer seems so out of reach.

God has shown volunteers the grace to see, more deeply and clearly, people who are hurting and far from Him. This is a Christmas gift for which we are truly grateful.

Are you seeking support this Christmas? Call our Call Center at 616.662.3300×126 or email [email protected] to learn more!

This year, you too can donate gifts to the Community Christmas! We are anticipating a demand for 2,200 Christmas gifts this year for anyone from 0-60 years, as well as stocking stuffers and wrapping paper. Gifts should be $15-$30 in value, and you can contact Cindy Jarvis with questions about drop-off locations and opportunities to volunteer [email protected].

Below are gift ideas and suggestions:

Ages 0-5

  • Baby Dolls (different ethnicities)
  • Little People Sets
  • Little Tykes
  • Fisher Price Toys
  • Leap Frog Toys
  • Doll Furniture
  • Doll Strollers
  • Educational Toys
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • Cars and Trucks
  • Play Dishes and Play Food
  • Games
  • Lego Duplo Blocks
  • KNEX Kids Sets
  • Craft Kits
  • Play-Doh Sets
  • Nerf Sets

Ages 6-11

  • Little Tykes
  • Craft Kits
  • RC Cars
  • Games
  • Scooters
  • Dolls (different ethnicities)
  • Sports Equipment (footballs, soccer balls, baseball gloves, goals, etc)
  • Sleds
  • Lego Sets
  • Barbie Dolls (different ethnicities)
  • Beyblades
  • Nerf Sets

Ages 12 and Older

  • Wireless Speakers
  • Gift Cards in $10 increments
  • Deluxe Make-Up Sets
  • Trendy Purses
  • Curling Iron/Hair Straightener
  • Hair Dryer
  • Sports Equipment
  • Watches
  • Alarm Clock
  • Headphones
  • Perfume/cologne

Adult gifts

  • Books
  • Cologne
  • Perfume
  • Slippers
  • Clothing
  • Puzzle Books
  • Tools

Kid’s Stocking stuffers

  • Individual Nail Polish
  • Lip Gloss
  • Candy
  • Hair Accessories
  • Single Pairs of Fun Socks
  • Coloring Books
  • Markers
  • Card Games
  • Fidget Spinners
  • Matchbox Cars
  • Bubbles

Adult’s Stocking Stuffers

  • Travel Size
  • Lotion
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Candy
  • Gum