A string of secret Santas in Massachusetts made their way to local Toys "R" Us stores last week and paid thousands of their own dollars to pay off all of the stores' layaway orders in efforts to help families in financial need put gifts under the Christmas tree for their children.
The pay it forward-type of Christmas initiative took prominence last Wednesday at a Toys "R" Us in Bellingham, Massachusetts where an unidentified woman, known only as the "Layaway Angel" paid nearly $20,000 of her own money to bless hard working parents by closing out all of the store's 154 layaway orders. Each balance varied from just a few bucks to over a few hundred dollars.
One parent, who along with her kids is a beneficiary of the "Layaway Angel's" Christmas generosity, told the Milford Daily News that she was surprised when she received a call from Toys "R" Us telling her to come pick up her layaway order because her balance had already been paid for. more >>
Some churches are countering the trend of Black Friday shopping and materialism by promoting "Bless Friday," an observance promoting charity work that seeks to bless the less fortunate.
Eva Kaminski, associate director of Communications at Memorial Drive Presbyterian in Houston, told The Christian Post that Bless Friday is "an encouragement for people to shift their focus from shopping to serving."
"Bless Friday is something that our congregation and staff have embraced. The beauty is in the soul-building that occurs when we focus on others instead of self, and serve in Christ's Name," she said. more >>
A historic number of America's youth – 2.5 million children – are homeless according to a report recently released by the National Center on Family Homelessness. These children, the report shows, are victims of a number of variables that contribute to homelessness including single motherhood, racial disparities and low household incomes.
The report, based on data compiled from the U.S. Department of Education and the Census Bureau, reveals that many of the nation's homeless children are on the verge of losing their housing, don't have a fixed residence, are living in places not designated for human beings, or are living in some kind of temporary housing. Many homeless children's circumstances are tied to problems plaguing their families.
According to the report, "Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are Black or Hispanic." more >>
A September Lifeway Research survey reveals that nearly a quarter of Americans have received food from a church-run food pantry. Minorities and churchgoers commonly benefit from church pantries, according to the survey.
The Nashville-based Christian research firm polled 1,158 respondents about church food pantries and found that 22 percent said they have relied on a church program to feed their families. Of those who have received food from a church pantry, 26 percent were churchgoers. Over a third identified as evangelical.
More than one in three church pantry users (37 percent) were African Americans, 25 percent were Hispanic while 19 percent of the pantry users were Caucasian. more >>
Reflecting on the growing racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Kirk Franklin took to Twitter to call on men to mentor troubled youth.
Franklin tweeted that he has struggled to respond to the news that St. Louis County prosecutors would not be trying Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. But he finally broke his silence on the matter Tuesday evening.
In a series of tweets, the gospel recording artist urged men in Ferguson and nationwide to take a troubled child under their wings. "Imagine," he wrote "In Ferguson and across the country if every successful male embraced a young man from a less fortunate community (two times) a month (and) showed him what success looks like, smells like, checked on his grades, went to his game." more >>
In the wake this week's grand jury decision not to indict the Ferguson, Missouri, cop who shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, potential Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson claims that young males living in inner cities need to be taught how to respond better to authority.
In an interview with Bloomberg Politics Monday night, the 63-year-old retired neurosurgeon and rising conservative star was asked to recount his own childhood experience with his run-ins with inner city Detroit law enforcement.
Although Carson said that as a kid there was the possibility for many run-ins with police officers, he said he was largely able to avoid harsh police confrontations because he was taught at a young age to be "polite" and how to "appropriately" react to interactions with law enforcement and other types of authority. more >>