Three years after starting a Christmas gift donation program in its community, the outreach committee of Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Big Rapids, Mich., is seeing local families begin to take part in more of the church’s events and services.
Sarah Fochtman, whose family has been a recipient of the program for all three years, said the church has been “extremely giving.” The first year, “on top of all the presents,” she said she appreciated receiving practical things “for the whole family—food gift cards too.” She said that gifts are nice for those “who don’t have much.”
Outreach committee member Rosanne Eising implemented the program three years ago as a way of serving and connecting with the community. “It's an opportunity for relational outreach,” she said.
In late autumn, church members are encouraged to select a tag that describes a participating local child and then purchase gifts suitable for their age, size, and interest. Church families deliver wrapped gifts and also share information about Fellowship’s programs and worship services with recipient families.
Fochtman said her girls were excited to be invited to Fellowship’s GEMS program, a children’s discipleship ministry. As a mom, she said she was “blown away” by a church member’s offer to drive them.
Kim Romeyn, who is now the point person for the gift distribution, said she appreciates how the program “fosters community involvement … and is potentially more personal than donating money to an organization, as it allows for relationships.”
Romeyn said two of the recipient families in 2021 were repeat participants.