Johns Creek United Methodist Church (JCUMC) is delighted to announce that for the third year in a row, over 600 children will receive Christmas gifts through the 2017 Norcross Co-Op (NCM) Christmas Program. The 14 days of the NCM Christmas Program connects over 1,000 volunteers, 800 families and 2,400 children with the joy of giving and receiving the spirit of Christ. JCUMC is one of the 23 churches who make up the Norcross Co-op, and has been working with NCM’s Christmas Program for at least 15 years.
The NCM Christmas Program helps families every year to experience the joy of Christmas through the generosity and sharing of others. These families often have jobs that pay just enough for food and shelter but not enough for non-essential expenses, so JCUMC works with NCM to bless their children with gifts and full holiday tables.
“We both come from very humble backgrounds,” explains program coordinators, Linda and Wally Haislip. “This is a way to repay the wonderful people who helped us along our way.”
JCUMC is proud to support the NCM through the “Adopt a Family” program each year. This year’s theme, “If not us, who?” encouraged JCUMC members and friends to think about their own blessings as a means to bless others. In response, the JCUMC “Adopt a Family” program adopted 101 families through the NCM. Those 101 families account for 314 children.
“We are overjoyed by the overwhelming generosity from our congregation that allows us to minister to the recipients of NCM’s program”, Rev. Dr. Sondra Jones, Senior Pastor JCUMC.
Each adopted family receives a bible, a $25 to $50 gift card for groceries, $75 of toys and/or clothing for each child, and the wrapping paper, bows, tags and tape to wrap the presents. JCUMC tries to personally connect with each family to understand the needs and wishes for the children. The Haislips, program coordinators at NCM, believe that these personal connections “add to the joy of Christmas.”
At each gift pick-up day, JCUMC pastors and laypeople volunteer and meet the families face to face. Rev. Dr. Brandon Harris, executive pastor at JCUMC, found it to be a rewarding experience. “Every family that I met was extraordinarily grateful and overjoyed at the generosity of the churches and individuals who participated in this ministry,” he recalls. “Though many were from underprivileged households, these kids had the same Christmas wishes as any other would have. Each child I interacted with was so excited.”
In addition to adopting families, JCUMC members held donation drives for toys and clothing to supply the Toy Store. NCM operates two Toy Stores, one at Perimeter Church and one at JCUMC. These Toy Stores are open to families that were not adopted into the program but still need assistance. Enough toys to fill two 26-foot moving trucks are sorted and set up in the church facilities, where volunteers pull gifts that match the family wish lists provided by the parents. JCUMC’s Toy Store alone has over 200 volunteers that setup and run the store each year in early December. Despite this year’s unexpected amount of snow which prevented many from attending, JCUMC and community volunteers still got the job done. Through the NCM Toy Store, JCUMC provided toys and clothing for approximately 296 additional children.
JCUMC members and NCM Program Coordinators Tammi and Traci Consolini, describe the program as “a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out.’” The Consolinis have been involved with the NCM Christmas Program for over 5 years; first as JCUMC coordinators and for the past two years as the NCM Christmas Program Coordinators.
When JCUMC congregation members were asked why “Adopt A Family” is important, similar themes were present. One family stated, “We chose to participate in adopting a family because God wants us to help others and provide these gifts that allow us to spread the joy of Christmas. It’s a great experience for our 7-year old and 4-year old children to witness how God wants us to share his love.”
In 2018, JCUMC looks forward to sharing the joy of the season and working with NCM again to provide another 600 children with Christmas gifts. With the help of the Johns Creek community, it’s sure to be just as spectacular as 2017.
More information on Johns Creek UMC’s partnership with the Norcross Co-op Christmas Program can be found at www.johnscreekumc.org/AdoptAFamily