Christmas Reflections in the New Year
I love Christmas. I love everything about it. The twinkly lights, the festive colors, the Christmas trees, the wonder, the sharing of the generous hearts with one another. But if I was really honest, although I love Christmas, it can feel overwhelming as well. The pressure to buy that perfect gift, the time to care and love on others, put up the lights, make it the whole experience well…feel Christmassy and amazing!
Recently I stepped into a new role at Christmas HELP, one as Community Partner Coordinator. I really enjoy connecting with people in our community of Central Florida and I love matching people’s passions with purpose. Over the last past 5 months matching purpose with passion has become reality through a wonderful event called The Christmas Extravaganza. The project takes place over many months of planning, calling and setting up the Extravaganza that brings together 65 churches, and businesses and some individuals through our Dove Tree Program. This program invites local churches and business who have a desire and a passion for their community to collect toys. Through these partnerships, Christian HELP can provide a free shopping opportunity to families in need for them to find the “perfect gift” for their child that otherwise, they would not have been able to provide for. As a result, these 199 (in 2018) families were able to find a gift from all of the toys donated and in turn, see to it that their 540 children (collectively) received Christmas!
Here are a just a couple comments from families that were a part of the Extravaganza experience:
We are a family of 5. Until last week we have all been 3 hours apart. I was finally able to relocate with the younger two children. Unfortunately, this means we are staring Christmas in the face with only a single income. Walking in here today I had a great weight lifted off of my shoulder. Thank you for your generosity and this true blessing to my family. – Mary
To each and every one of you who found it in your heart to donate and volunteer. Thank you. This year has been the roughest year my family and I have faced. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy, my husband had a heart attack and diagnosed with congestive heart failure, my father battled kidney failure. I, in turn, lost my job as a result of taking care of them all. I am just getting things on track and catching up on bills left no room for Christmas. Thanks for providing hope and sharing God’s love. - Octavia.
The Extravaganza also brings 155 volunteers together. Here is what Cindy had to say, “This was an experience that reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas and how important it is to give back to the community. I want to thank you for allowing us to volunteer and share the joy.”
Here’s what other volunteers had to say about The Christmas Extravaganza: “One young lady came in so tired, looking so discouraged and, well, angry. I don't think she was angry...just really tired. But after we prayed, she brightened and we had a wonderful conversation.” (Carl)
(Renee L) volunteered as greeter, but got the opportunity to go through the whole process from prayer to complete the full experience with a Spanish speaking mother. What a blessed experience.
Now we move into the next year, the hope from last Christmas still fills our hearts. My prayer is that the feeling that people have had in giving back at Christmas would fill their hearts each and every day in 2019.
If you looking for a mission to connect your passion for giving back to others, please contact Tracie at Tracies@christianhelp.org. We would love for you to have a mission driven life. Blessings to you in this New Year. May you find all God has for you!