Christmas is still over a month away, but it’s high on the minds of Christian Ministry executive director Mitzi Williams and her staff. They’ve launched their annual Christmas fundraiser and are now in preparation for the day when the ministry gives away wheelbarrows full of food and toys to local families in need.
“We have a Christmas ministry and it’s really three parts,” Williams said. “First it’s toys of course - toys for children 14 and under. We do at least three new toys per child. Last year we did 583 children. It’s also a wheelbarrow full of food for people. They can have children or not have children. If they apply for food here, they can apply for food for Christmas so it’s an extra helping of food.”
The food that’s given away prior to Christmas really comes in handy for those families with children who are off school for the holiday break so they need extra food in the house, Williams said. The food donation includes vegetables, fruits, meats, cereal, candy and toiletries.
The third part of the ministry is the Christmas fundraiser, which provides the funds that it relies on into the next year.
“Last year we raised a little over $103,000,” Williams said. “Our biggest total was $120,000 in 2017 and I would love to get it back up to those numbers. There’s a big difference between the two and you can tell it when you’re trying to make plans around here. We take donations in honor and in memory of people.”
Staff at the ministry have begun interviewing people for the Christmas giveaway. There will also be a used toy giveaway on Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
“If anyone has used toys that they want to give us, now is the time,” Williams said. “We’ve been advertising that day so we should get a lot of people coming through.”
Lincoln County Schools and many local churches are collecting food for the ministry. Some of the local schools turn the food collection into a competition for the amount of poundage that they gather and will be accepting donations through the week of Thanksgiving. Additionally, each year area scout troops go “scouting for food,” often bringing in thousands of pounds of donated food for the ministry and other local nonprofits.
Those who are unable to donate food, toys or money can still be of assistance by volunteering either on giveaway day, or in the weeks leading up to giveaway day. The ministry relies on volunteers to organize the donated toys as they come in and then bag them up before they’re given away. Volunteers are also needed on giveaway day to deliver the wheelbarrows of food to the cars that line the street in front of the Christian Ministry.
“We’ve become the North Pole on November 1 and it won’t stop until we give all those toys and all that food out,” Williams said. “It’s a big undertaking and has a lot of parts but it all comes together on the day we give out.
Giveaway day is scheduled for Dec. 20 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. outside the Christian Ministry building, located at 207 South Poplar Street in Lincolnton. Families seeking assistance with food or toys can visit the ministry for an interview between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday-Friday. Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate can contact Christian Ministry by calling (704) 732-0383 or visiting www.christianministryoflincolncounty.org.