MILFORD — During this time of year, many people are reminded of things they may not have; however a church congregation in Bracken County is doing what they can to bring good tidings of joy and to spread the good news.
Milford Christian Church held its third annual Christmas Shop for families in need of gifts for their children or grandchildren this holiday season. Rev. Michael Cannon, minster for Milford Christian, said he and the church work on this event year round.
“We collect toys all year long, so what we’ll do in January, when they go on sale, we’ll start stocking up and we store them all year long,” he said.
Cannon said the church advertises that it is about to start the Christmas Shop so families can call in to reserve their visit to the church. When families arrive, they are given an envelope containing vouchers that are color coded to each room of the church, each containing various toys, where they can exchange one voucher for a toy.
Toys the church provides range from $5-$50 plus, along with some toys priced at around $200 for those willing to exchange all of their vouchers for just the one toy. The church specifies that the gifts are for children 12 and under, however they do what they can to include older children.
“We advertise; we do a 12 and under, but then like somebody will call and say ‘I’ve got two that are under 12, but I have one that’s a 15 year old,’ well we’re not going to say ‘nope, 15 year olds don’t get presents,’ but we do have some of those and we try to get some stuff that maybe older kids would like,” Cannon said.
When families choose their toys, volunteers offer to wrap them so that they are ready to be put under a tree. Food is also provided to families who drop by.
“This is the thing all year long—we don’t tell anybody no, with no questions asked,” Cannon said. “If you make $100,000 a year, you just want to come down here and get free toys from us, we’ll help you. That’s between you and God.”
Not only does the church take part in gathering presents and organizing the shop, Cannon said even other members of the community pitch in to make sure everyone can give gifts this season. Cannon said Woodmen Life had also donated $3,000 for the church to put together bags of food, containing bags of oranges and potatoes, cans of green beans and a ham, to families in need.
Families are completely floored by what the church has available and the generosity the congregation provides, Cannon said. Sandra Adamson and Charles Cook, two visitors at Milford Christian, said they greatly appreciate the efforts of this church, and have never seen gifts as extravagant as this at such an event.
“We’re on a fixed income, and money only goes so far, so we’re very thankful,” Adamson said.
Erin Conley, member of Milford Christian Church, who volunteers at the Christmas Shop said the event is a blessing not only for those who are receiving the gifts, but also to those who are doing the giving.
“It’s honestly one of the greatest things that I feel like I’ve been a part of — it’s one of of my favorite things at Christmas time. I definitely think it’s met needs in our community, that we were able to help who we can. Times are hard for lots of people, and so it’s nice to be able to share God’s blessings with those who need it the most.”