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Celebrating the Greatest Gift

The Giving Depot is all about celebrating relationships! Our 9th Annual Giving Depot with local ministry partner Rise Up! was a wonderful event where together we served 90 families who attended the December 8 event. This holiday outreach provides a great platform for Grace Fellowship to stand alongside and support the relationships that Rise Up! has with children and families in our community while celebrating the reason for the season, Jesus!

For 92 Rise Up! students the Giving Depot was a time for celebrating their achievements of hard work during the fall season. These students, who are mentored by Rise Up!-sponsored mentors or attend the after school program called SKIA, earned ‘giving bucks’ through service projects, character development, attendance and learning about the Christmas story and the Christ of Christmas. The payoff occurred when they came to the Christmas Store, redeemed those giving bucks and purchased gifts for their families. Students didn’t purchase any gifts for themselves. This process helps empower young people, instill godly character and reinforce the words of Jesus who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Our church family spent many hours of decorating and preparing The Refuge (the facility of Rise Up! located in Johnson City), purchasing and tagging gifts, and praying for this event. Over 200 people volunteered prior to and about 180 people served the day of the event! Around $15,000 worth of gifts were donated and many hours invested in pulling off this outreach event! This is truly a ‘my church’ experience where spending time serving together is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others and build relationships in a unique service setting.

One of the new initiatives for the event was to creatively share the gospel during each of the two hour shopping sessions. GFC member Johnny Grant introduced a short clip from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ where Linus asks Charlie Brown, “Charlie Brown, you don’t know the real meaning of Christmas?” and proceeds to read from the gospel of Luke. After the video Johnny briefly shared a bit of his testimony and the good news about the greatest gift of all, Jesus! This short timeout from the food, fellowship and crafts in the gymnasium where families and children congregated was tremendous and a good reminder for all of us to not forget the greatest gift, the gift of relationship with God through faith in His Son!

During the course of the day students enjoyed shopping for their family with GFC shopping partners while food, photography and other activities kept the party going! Everyone was able to enjoy food supplied by Bojangles, The Firehouse, and Sammons along with coffee from Dunkin Donuts. We greatly appreciate these vendors’ support of the Giving Depot. There were fun activities like face painting and crafts. We also had our very own photography studio on the stage where a holiday photo was taken and sent out with homemade Christmas cards our K-4th grade children made during a work time.

Ample opportunities to celebrate our relationship with Jesus and express our love for Him through giving of ourselves abounded during the event itself! People from our Grace Fellowship family volunteered in various capacities, serving as shopping partners, gift wrappers, food servers, table hosts, photographers, gift inventory managers, parking attendants, welcome center workers, and volunteer coordinators. We even had an awesome clean-up crew who served for 2 hours after the event ended at 4pm to help breakdown and store various materials and decorations!

Yes, this is a big event with lots of people and moving parts, but ultimately the focal point of the Giving Depot is relationship, relationship with God and each other!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” During this Christmas season when we rejoice that God sent us His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, the Giving Depot provided a wonderful platform to touch the lives of many people by showing His love and grace through the gift of giving!

The 2012 Giving Depot was truly a wonderful time of community outreach, fellowship, and a celebration of relationship with our Redeemer Jesus, the reason for the season and the giver of all good gifts!


Larry Stamm

Local Outreach

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