Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Christmas Store

For many families, Christmas is a challenge. They want to provide a few toys for their children, but their finances are too limited to buy many gifts, even at relatively inexpensive prices. Some children will receive a toy or two; others will receive nothing.

Each year, the Contact Church helps such families with our Christmas Store. Several churches and individual Christians in our area donate new unwrapped toys to the Contact Church. The Contact Church discounts each toy by 75% off the retail price. (Some people donate money and gift cards. Last weekend, my wife Janet took over $200 in donated cash and gift cards to Walmart in order to purchase toys for the Christmas Store. She loved her new shopping ministry.) Then, on a Saturday in December, the church building is transformed into a Christmas Store for people in need in our community.

By purchasing the toys at deeply discounted prices, the poor families of our city are able to retain a certain sense of dignity. They purchase the merchandise rather than receive it for free. But the discounts make a huge difference. An $8 action figure is much more affordable at $2. They are far more likely to be able to provide very nice gifts to all of their children because of the generosity of wealthier believers in our area.

As an added benefit, the money raised at the Christmas Store pays for the Contact kids to attend summer camp each year. Otherwise, the vast majority of our children would not have an opportunity to go to camp. Most of our kids come from low-income housing projects; and it would be unthinkable for their families to come up with enough money to send them.

Yesterday, the Contact Church sponsored the Christmas Store; and because of it, over 100 families in Tulsa will be able to provide their children with nice gifts this Christmas while several of our Contact kids will be able to attend summer camp.

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