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California Church Shows True Love on Valentine’s Day


While society encourages us to celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers, chocolates, and romance, the Coffee Break group at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Ripon, Calif., celebrates true love. Every year, members participate in a service project for women who are abused and their children—people who need to see true love in a special way.

Love bags are given to those less fortunate.

For over 10 years, the women’s group has collected items such as toiletries, beauty supplies, toys, books, socks, underwear, school supplies, craft projects, and more. They pack individual gift bags for all the women and children at two shelters, Mary Graham Hall and Haven of Peace.

The effort first began as a way for the group to serve others. “I thought it was time we did something beyond our walls,” said Gert Vos, Coffee Break coordinator.

On the Thursday before Valentine’s Day, the women gather together, receive a slip with a name, children’s names and age, and then they “shop” from the tables filled with items.

Each year around 50 packages are prepared for recipients who may have arrived with just the clothes on their backs. After all of the have been packed in gift bags, a few women from the group deliver the packages. While the group doesn’t often have personal contact with the recipients, especially the children, they know the effort is appreciated.

Vos said, “Every year I hear the same thing [from the shelters], ‘We were worried you weren’t going to do it this year.’”

It is a special event for the Coffee Break attendees as well. “On the day worldly love is floating around, we give them the better love,” said Vos.

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