At Christmas time, mankind celebrates the gift of Christ’s birth in many ways. including the tradition of giving gifts to mark the perfect gift of God’s Son being given to man.
For many low-income or financially-challenged families, however, Christmas does not become a time of joy, but of stress and pressure, since their dollars won’t stretch far enough for them to give gifts for their children.
The Colonial Hills area of Southaven, where Trinity Baptist Church is located, is regarded as an area where there are residents who may fall into that category.
As a response, the church has offered a means of giving more families in need the ability to celebrate Christmas and retain their dignity and pride in providing for their children.
Called Affordable Christmas, the program is in its third year as a community outreach, said Trinity Student Pastor Bruce Roberts, noting it involves schools, organizations, businesses and other churches.
“We partner with three area elementary schools right now, Greenbrook, Southaven Elementary and Hope Sullivan,” Roberts said. “Christmas time is supposed to be a joyous time of gift giving, but I think for some families, it can actually be a time of pressure and stress. You want to be able to give your children gifts. Affordable Christmas attempts to make Christmas more affordable for them.”
The schools get involved, Roberts said, by recommending through applications families who may benefit from Affordable Christmas, a shopping event with new toys set up in the gymnasium that are priced at one-tenth of their original cost.
“Parents of the families that are referred to us by the schools come and shop at the store,” Roberts said. “A family can shop for one child for roughly $9. The schools know these kids better than we do and they know the families, so we look to them to select the families they think would benefit from the store.”
Roberts said applications are received and sent back to the church, which then schedules a time during the special event just for them on Dec. 9 where mom and dad can come buy gifts for their children.
There’s more than just shopping offered by the church, however, Roberts pointed out.
“We offer five finance classes as we’re trying to target the whole family and hopefully put them in a better position for the upcoming year so they may not have to participate in Affordable Christmas next year,” Roberts said. “The first of those classes is on Sunday for those who have already signed up.”
Last year’s Affordable Christmas touched 144 children and 41 families in the Colonial Hills area. Roberts said the program is set up not to be just a giveaway function.
“The heart behind why we wanted to do it is that we believe everyone is made in the image of God,” said Roberts. “We want to uphold that dignity. There are a lot of programs that do a lot of good work during Christmas time but we really want the parent to have the joy of saying, ‘This is what I picked out for you and this is what I bought you.’”
The church is in the process now of collecting applications from the schools, making contact with the families, and in seeking donations of new toys from businesses, organizations, other churches and individuals.
Roberts may be contacted for more information on that at the church, 662-349-3333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This year’s Affordable Christmas will be Dec. 9 in the church gym from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.