When I was a kid, my church partnered with a local organization that would deliver Christmas gifts to low-income families in our community. This was started by people with incredibly generous hearts who had a desire to spread joy and love during the holidays. I loved serving with them, and I loved getting to see the kids’ faces as we brought in huge packages perfectly wrapped and filled with toys that their parents never would have been able to afford on their own. If I’m being honest, I also really loved how it made me feel on the inside – generous, charitable, and thankful that my parents could afford to buy me nice things. 

As we went into the homes of complete strangers, I noticed a trend among the families. The mothers and the children would come to the front door with forced smiles and obligatory “thank yous,” but the fathers would sneak into the back of the house not wanting to interact. To be fully transparent, I used to be a bit frustrated by this. I would think, “How could they do that? Here we are with a bunch of nice things for their kids. Are these dads not thankful? Don’t they see what great people we are? Shouldn’t they be thanking us?” 

Fast forward to my first year in Community Impact ministry when I was walking alongside a number of families in similar financial situations to those families we used to deliver gifts to. I was having a conversation with one of the dads one day when he opened up about the pain and embarrassment of having well-intentioned strangers show up on their porch to deliver Christmas gifts to his kids. He said, “It broke me. I’m their dad. I want to be their hero. I want to make their dreams come true but because I got sick and I’m out of work for a while, I can’t be. I’m beyond thankful for their generosity, but I wish I could have been the one to celebrate that moment with them.” It finally clicked. The dads I used to see sneak into a back room weren’t ungrateful or selfish, not at all. They were simply struggling with seeing a group of people they didn’t know get to have that “Christmas morning moment” with their children instead of them. 

We all know Christmas is not about presents or holiday magic. It’s about a God whose love for his children led him to sacrifice his own son. It’s about a God who values his people, a God who sees undeniable worth in his sons and daughters, a God who restores dignity and identity to people who have had theirs stripped away by the evil in this world. So shouldn’t we desire the same? Shouldn’t we value our brothers and sisters like our Father does? Shouldn’t we do our part to remind our community that they are loved, chosen, and placed in their families by perfect design and intention?

This is why I love the partnership we have with Watered Gardens, especially at Christmas. Every year, they set up their Christmas Market with a huge selection of brand-new toys, clothes, games, and stocking stuffers and invite the community to come shop for gifts for their children. Instead of paying with money, they pay with their time. Each gift has a “price tag” with a number of minutes that the adult will need to work in order to earn that item, and the exchange rate is extremely generous. I talked with a participating family last year who was so excited for Christmas morning. They could not wait for their kids to open their gifts and know that they used their God-given abilities to earn the items that they got to pick out specifically for them. What a beautiful way to show compassion and love, while also restoring dignity and worth to hard-working families who may feel like theirs is gone!

Thank you so much for your generosity this year during Christmas Impact! Being a part of a church that loves their community so deeply is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

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