(Photo: Liquid Church)
Over 400 children from economically disadvantaged families in New Jersey will find a new present under the tree this Christmas.
On Dec. 10, the New Brunswick- based Liquid Church, along with 15 local social service organizations, is hosting a community outreach called Operation Christmas Angel.
“With the economy the way it is, people are hurting,” Lead Pastor Tim Lucas told The Christian Post. He said his church came up with the idea for OCA as a way to “show Christ’s love in a practical way.”
To do that, Liquid Church partnered with local social service agencies which provided them with the names of some of the most needy families in the area. Those families have been invited to three different locations, set up by Liquid Church, where parents can select brand new toys and a new winter coat for each of their children. The families will also get to take a professional family portrait together.
The church purchased $45,000 worth of toys through funds set apart in the church budget. They had to rent a truck in order to cart everything they bought for OCA from Walmart. In total, 1,700 brand new toys, gifts and coats, were purchased. Along with 800 yards of wrapping paper, 250 holiday photo frames and 1,700 gift bags and gift tags.
Lucas said this program is different from other Christmas charity organizations because their goal is to treat the families that come in like royalty. It “isn’t just a handout,” said Lucas. “We want to generate relationships and friendships” with those that come in.
The whole idea behind the program is to get people talking and give them a platform to learn from each other. “These are our brothers and sisters, and if we can be a help and encouragement during the recession that’s our privilege,” said Lucas.
The first order of business at each location is brunch for the families. Volunteers from the church will serve them, and the food is being catered by the Hyatt, all of it donated by the hotel. Right after the meal, kids from the church will partner up with the visiting children and do crafts with them.
Meanwhile, parents have the opportunity to go Christmas shopping in one of the hotel ballrooms the church has turned into a shopping center. Once parents pick the gifts they want, the church will gift wrap them and provide them with stocking stuffers, all for free.
This is Operation Christmas Angel’s second year in operation. The program has been expanded to include a third city this year so that families in Morristown, New Brunswick, and Nutley will benefit from the program. Over 600 local volunteers will serve the approximately 600 parents and children invited to the event.
“What’s more meaningful to me than the thousands of dollars being spent on the families is the thousands of volunteer hours being poured into the children and their parents that are coming., Lucas said in a statement. “Outreach is core part of who we are as a church and we hope the families we meet will feel it in their hearts.”