Decorating the tree the day after Thanksgiving, opening one present on Christmas Eve, counting down the days until Christmas with a family advent calendar - there are some Christmas traditions that are simply timeless. We look forward to them with anticipation, as an indication that the Christmas season has truly begun.
For GFC, The Giving Depot has been one of those traditions for over a decade. Every year, we know the Giving Depot is coming by the tell-tale Christmas trees in the lobby, hung with hundreds of gift tag ornaments that GFCers can select to stock the Giving Depot store. And every year, the ornaments fly off the trees within weeks. This year was no different (all the ornaments were gone in a week and half, actually).
Over the past month, GFCers gave nearly $12,000 in gifts to stock the Giving Depot store for participants. Last weekend, around 100 children with the Rise Up! Ministries' after-school program excitedly streamed into GFC to shop for family members and live out the words of Jesus, "It is better to give than to receive." In addition to shopping, kids got to create Christmas cards, decorate cookies, and take advantage of snacks and face painting.
Though many of these students are Giving Depot "veterans," this year brought two major twists that made the event a brand-new experience for everyone, volunteers included. Not only did GFC hold the event on-site for the very first time, connecting dozens of families to our church campus, but our local outreach team also provided a program for these families called "Blitz Christmas." Blitz Christmas is a high-energy, interactive event for the entire family, with kids and parents pairing up for a ton of crazy games. The best part is that the Gospel was presented in a compelling way and 4 students shared a desire to trust in Christ!
GFCers love the Giving Depot, with over 250 church-goers getting involved every year. Each volunteer who serves plays a significant role in pouring into the lives of these students, whether they create a welcoming environment by setting up and decorating, help parents park, wrap gifts for shoppers, or walk through the Christmas store with a child. Our volunteers model the love of Christ and truly embody the Giving Depot value of giving. We are very grateful for the hard work our volunteers do at a time of year that is already so busy.
Check out a few pictures of the Giving Depot below, read an article about it in last weekend's Johnson City Press, learn more about the event, or follow on Facebook for updates.
Posted on Tue, December 15, 2015
by Grace Fellowship Church