As in years past, the Eastern Baptist Association is attempting to meet the needs of over 700 children this Christmas. The Association provides a Toy Store where parents or guardians can go to “buy” toys for their children. They offer five sites where these purchases have and can be made.
The first of the stores opened on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Rose Hill Baptist, Serenity Baptist and Immanuel Baptist churches. The second stores will be open this Saturday at the Warsaw Baptist and Shiloh Baptist churches.
“We will be giving Bibles, toys (age appropriate), stockings and food bags to the children and their families,” explained Donna Landes, missions ministry coordinator.“We ask anyone interested to please bring donated Bibles, toys, stocking stuff, and food items to EBA and we will also take monetary donations.This is a wonderful way in which to share God’s love at Christmas helping these young people in such need,” added Landes.
The EBA is comprised of 52 churches and missions that work together to better serve the citizens of Duplin, Sampson and Wayne counties. Many of the churches and/or missions take on the Toy Store as a mission project of their own. They donate toys that they buy or collect and also make financial donations.
Tena Johnson, minister of children and youth at Beulah Baptist Church in Turkey is working with the Toy Store this year. “Last year our children selected a young girl with cancer as our project. This year they decided to take on the Toy Store as their mission project. The children have truly enjoyed going out and buying toys and wrapping them,” shared Johnson.
She explained that the families served are selected from a list provided through the school guidance counselors, the Departments of Social Services and from area pastors. The families are contacted and then they go through an application process to qualify to participate.
“Unfortunately we have to do this to ensure that we don’t have people participating that are not in need,” stated Landes.
Once a family is qualified, they are invited to shop at one of the locations offered.
Johnson explained that each child will receive wrapped gifts. In the past, they have also been given an opportunity to go into a room and select a used toy that they can take with them. “Hopefully they are doing this again this year,” stated the minister of children and youth.
Landes shared that each family will receive a bag of food that will have a turkey breast included. “We depend on volunteers and the contributions from the churches. If not for the outpouring of love and concern from the people in our churches, we would not be able to provide this ministry. The Toy Store is a wonderful way to share the mission of Christ and celebrate the greatest gift that came from God as we celebrate Christmas,” expressed Landes.
One big contribution to the Toy Store project is the annual Billy Harrell Memorial Golf tournament. The proceeds from the tournament go towards helping fund the Toy Store each year.
“My kids from Beulah are looking forward to going and working at the sites helping out. We even have some adult members that will be participating. The kids will help tend to the children while their parents shop and also help the families get all their goodies to the car.It is truly a blessing to see them see the true meaning and joy of Christmas,” concluded Johnson.
Anyone that wishes to participate in the program is welcomed to do so. There are several ways in which someone can participate such as a financial donation, help at one of the sites, shop for toys before the event, share the gospel with the families who come and translate for visitors. You may contact the Eastern Baptist Association by phone at 910-293-7077 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.easternbaptist.com.