Birmingham churches collect and give Christmas gifts to families
Diane k bert
Angel Trees are a tradition in many churches. Labels are placed on a Christmas tree indicating a child’s first name, age, size and the desired gift. Donors select the label of their choice and purchase the desired item, returning it for delivery to the child. Sometimes the selected gift is a specific toy.
âThe members of the congregation were very motivated to give generously to those in need and looked for ways to brighten up someone’s Christmas,â said Reverend John Judson of First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham. âThey donated funds and helped prepare food baskets for food insecure families at Alcott School in Pontiac. They also fulfilled all the children’s wishes detailed on the angel tree. Gifts were also selected for the siblings of the children featured on the angel tree.
Amy Garza helped organize the Angel Tree Project.
Another opportunity to give is the mitten tree. Donors place mittens, gloves, hats and scarves on the tree which are then given to students at Alcott Elementary School. In January, each child at Alcott School will receive pajamas and socks. Stephanie Kummer is leading these activities.
âPFC has a long association with the Alcott School. We have a large group of tutors and mentors, and provide computers, books and clothing, âsaid Cindy Merten, director of Christian education. “The director, Ms. Burdena Johnson, is very grateful.”
Reverend Kate Thoresen leads the year-round Faith Committee Coalition on Foster Care, which provides a platform for churches across the state to partner with social agencies to help 13,000 children in foster care. She is particularly interested in supporting children leaving foster families. Members of the congregation brought an abundance of clothing and infant care items to give to the large group of women who are having children at the age of 21 after leaving foster care.
Teenage McKenna Smith was helping Thoresen package the donated items for distribution.
âA lot of people don’t have the necessities to live from day to day,â Smith said. âThey are counting on us to help them get through the winter.
The Presbyterian Church sponsors the Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center. Heidi Wilkinson is the director of this preschool program.
âThe children were learning to give to others in November. They brought items for food baskets and snacks and enjoyed decorating bags for the snack gifts, âshe explained.
Nearby Birmingham’s First United Methodist Church, Reverend Susie Hierholzer noted that the congregation is also very involved and generous. Many people say it changes them and gives them hope by participating in these mission projects. They continue to reach out to local, national and international causes.
A rather different mission and donor plan also took place. A Red Cross blood drive in December yielded 67 pints of blood as part of another worthy service project.
FUMC also had an Angel Tree that has served over 500 children with a parent in jail. Gifts are purchased for these children and generous bags of food are also given to these families.
Liz Rito coordinates the Angel Tree project at FUMC.
âVolunteers are involved at every stage of the project. They wrap the gift items and wrap the generous food baskets, âshe said. âThe volunteers also deliver each of the donations to family sites. “
Ratings from delighted recipients reinforce the importance of generous donations.
Here is a note from Debra: âI just want to thank you again. This year has been very difficult for me and my children. Being a single mom working while in school, this has really been a challenge. Sometimes I just want to give up. But I pray and the Lord keeps me. Thanks again.”
Following Christian teaching and doing useful things for others is a basic principle that has been followed by the hundreds of generous donors to these churches during the Christmas season. He has brightened the lives of many children and families.