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Russell Baptist Association plays Santa for 37 families with its Christmas Storecomment (0)

January 6, 2011

Christmas came early and abundantly for 37 families, representing 171 individuals, thanks to Russell Baptist Association’s Baptist Center.

For the third year in a row, the center opened its Christmas Store on Dec. 14 to families in Russell and south Lee counties living at or below the poverty level who were not being assisted by another organization.

“The only thing unusual (about our store this year) is that we sought those who didn’t know they’d be in need,” said Joycelyn Carrell, director of church and community ministries/Baptist Center for Russell Association. “We just filled in the gap for some families who didn’t know that they’d need help until the last minute.

“Several of [those we helped] are grandparents who had to start raising their own grandchildren,” she added. “They’re living off their Social Security checks and needed help with gifts.”

With the help of nine volunteers from four Russell Association churches who assisted with the store and people from all over Russell and Lee counties who donated new items, parents were able to take home more than 500 gifts, most of them for children.

“I’m always relieved that we can relieve at least one stress that they have … and know that they are going to be happy (on Christmas Day) instead of adding to the frustration of a lack of income,” Carrell said.

In addition to gifts, each person who came to the center took home a pamphlet that told the Christmas story and was encouraged to share the story with his or her family on Christmas Day.

“It’s a blessing that … we get to share Christ and encourage them to share Christ with their families,” Carrell said. “We’re here because Jesus loves us and Jesus loves [them], too, and we hope [they] share His love on Christmas Day. We want them to realize that their hope is in Christ.”

In addition to hosting the store, the center, which helps people all year long, gave out 194 grocery sacks of food to needy families in December. There is still enough food to be given to more people this month.

“I think all of our churches are always looking for a way to help people in need,” Carrell said. “They donate [to the center] because they know we follow up on the families and that we know their physical state as well as their spiritual needs.”

Wayne Burns is director of missions for Russell Association.  (TAB)

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