This morning I helped out with our church's Christmas Shoppe and it was truly wonderful! The Christmas Shoppe is a place where families in need can purchase a couple of gifts for each child for very little... I'm talking about 18" Our Generation Dolls for $3, Little Tykes Cottages for $10, a Coach bag for $10, and gift cards for 80% off (i.e. $10 for a $50 gift card or $5 for a $25 gift card. They had so much stuff.. books, scarves, make-up, cologne, bikes with helmets included, stuffed animals, and play kitchens. And there was another room of winter coats to help fill some of the necessities for these families.
The way that the shoppe worked was that these families signed up way in advance and the church worked with each family to ensure that they would have money to pay for the gifts. If the family did not have enough money they could spend time volunteering at the church to add to their shopping money. Then the families came to the church for brunch, dropped the kiddos in the children's ministry, and the parents shopped for gifts. The church held a Christmas in July campaign where all the donations fully funded the shoppe well in advance.
There is a great quote I read about this sort of offering that I think really explains it. It was from Poverty Cure by Kim Tan "I think what people want if you ask the poor-- if given a choice between a handout or a hand up that helps them really to have a sense of dignity and independence, to be able to put food on their table by themselves through their own effort-- they all want to be able to do that. You know, that is, that is a part of human aspiration, and I think we need to find ways of doing that; and it's enterprise that can really help people do that." This is the mentality of our church that inspired this program. It was heartwarming to see these people excited about buying gifts for their kids. Shopping, choosing, and paying for their gifts. So amazing. Here are a couple of the tables... not even a quarter of the stuff that was offered today!
I helped with restocking the gift tables to ensure there were gifts still available even as more and more families filtered through. It was a wonderful experience and a nice way to start my weekend. The kiddos couldn't tag along for this one but I am hoping our church continues this tradition so they can help in years to come!
Check out what the Bible says about helping the poor... "Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded...." this was in our reading for today in Deuteronomy 15.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and hopefully the weather is as nice it is here... 55 and sunny! :)
Keep track of all 25 Days of Kindness through this summary post.