Last year, Christian Ministry handed out toys to more than 1,000 area children and signed up at least 600 families for holiday assistance, Executive Director Susan Brymer told the Times-News on Thursday.
“These children would have no Christmas (without community help),” she said.
This year’s Christmas Fund campaign set a target goal of $50,000, which the community exceeded nearly twice over in 2011, kicked off Nov. 1 with close to 50 donors already on the list.
While the purpose of the seven-week long campaign is to provide for needy families during the winter season, Christian Ministry officials are more concerned with clothing, feeding and heating people in the months that follow the holiday hustle and bustle.
“We really want to make sure these families are fed…into the year, not just for Christmas,” Brymer said. “The money may buy a family heat in January.”
A majority of the 5,000 families who received Christian Ministry assistance last year averaged an income of $700 per household. In addition to those with low income, the organization often aids many elderly citizens and people with mental and physical disabilities.
“We see people who are really, really hurting,” Brymer said.
Officials use the Christmas Fund money to purchase toys and food for the families, and any leftover money is placed in the general fund for people who need assistance the rest of the year. The organization also hosts an angel tree.
Christian Ministry will mail each registered family a specific time to stop by the facility Dec. 20 to retrieve items.
Christmas Fund donors, who may remain anonymous, typically include a majority of the 102-member area churches as well as schools, businesses and individuals.
“It takes the community as a whole to help,” Brymer said.
With a soup kitchen open seven days a week, even on holidays, and hundreds of people shuffling in and out of the facility on a daily basis seeking one or all of the free programs the nonprofit offers, employees and volunteers alike are busier than ever.
“It’s just a miracle the way things happen here each day because we have so many people being served,” Brymer said.
To receive assistance, individuals must bring by a photo ID, social security number and proof of income. In addition, to prevent double dipping, Christian Ministry requires everyone show a bill of proof that he or she resides in a part of the county the organization’s marked to assist. East Lincoln Christian Ministry provides assistance to people in Pumpkin Center and Denver.
“We try to validate that each (family) is … truly in need,” Brymer said.
Since January, roughly 1,000 more families have flocked to Christian Ministry for assistance than this time last year, and Brymer has already seen people lined up outside the Lincolnton facility hours before doors open, enduring sometimes frigid temperatures just to ensure they get their name on this year’s Christmas Fund list.
“A person told me this week she got in line at 6:30 a.m.,” Brymer said. “It requires a lot more to get assistance this year than last. People have to stand in the cold and get in line earlier.”
Currently, Christian Ministry has nearly 100 part-time staff members and volunteers helping out on daily basis with only one person conducting all four hours of interviews with needy families.
“I have a very dedicated staff and volunteers,” Brymer said.
Christian Ministry, located at 207 S. Poplar Street in Lincolnton, is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In addition, Christmas Fund donations may be mailed to Christian Ministry, P.O. Box 423, Lincolnton, N.C. 28093.
The organization is also looking for groups of six to eight people to volunteer during the week. For more information, call (704) 732-0383.
Christian Ministry will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the soup kitchen
Donors up to this point are as follows: