In the Name of Jesus: Why We Do the Little Angels Shoppe Every Christmas
by Dale Reeves
“You better watch out, you better not cry;
Better not pout, I’m telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.”
For 123 families in our community, he is coming to town on December 12. He is coming to Christ’s Church. He is coming because of the many people who want to help children enjoy a Christmas morning where they can open a few gifts given in the name of Jesus.
For the past 18 years, Sally Skerl has helped with the Little Angels outreach that Christ’s Church does every December. Little Angels is an event that allows parents to come and shop, picking out clothes and toys for each of their children who might otherwise not have gotten many gifts on Christmas Day. Sally says, “I love seeing the joy on the faces of parents who come and pick out gifts for their kids. We live in such a blessed community and this opportunity is a little way for us to give back to others. I like that we can share the Christmas spirit with others outside our church and maybe get the chance to speak Jesus into people.”
Blessed by Giving
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, NLT). You might not find many children on Christmas morning expressing that sentiment, but this is one of the benefits of getting your children involved in Little Angels. They can stop at the Little Angels table on a Sunday morning and pick up a piece of paper on which are written specific items that a child wants. They can choose whether to shop for a boy or a girl. And, this year, because of COVID-19, we added an Amazon Wish List where people could purchase gifts online and have them directly shipped to the church building.
Alicia Peak has been involved with the Little Angels ministry for over ten years. She says, “It has always been a way for my husband and me to teach our children about giving to others in need. We pick tags for every child in our family and also choose a family gift. I take my kids shopping and they each pick out a present to give to the Little Angels Shoppe. We also pray for the child who will be receiving each gift.”
Maggie and Dave Buckley have been involved with the Little Angels outreach for seven years. Dave says, “I love this ministry because it allows us to share the true joy and meaning of Christmas. We get to share God’s love by simply serving and caring for other people. There are people from all over our church who are involved in the Little Angels experience—every age, men, women, and kids.”
Sally Skerl says, “Some of the people we get to help may never set foot inside a church, and this is a great way to help them see Jesus’ love demonstrated in a practical way. Many people are touched when we simply ask them how we can pray for them.”
Giving in Secret
Jesus said, “When you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:3, 4, NLT).
Maggie says, “Our church doesn’t do this so we will be seen by others, but this is something that people can do very quietly, and not for attention. We do this because we truly want to help others who may be in need at the time. I want to make the financial part of Christmas a little easier for those who need it. I like that we can take some stress off parents who are already weary during this time of the year.”
Alicia shares, “I have a passion for Little Angels because God calls us to care for the poor. When I was little, we didn’t have much. One year for Christmas we came downstairs to many presents given to us by others. My parents couldn’t afford presents for us that year and strangers stepped in to help. I want other children to have the same joy I had that year as a kid.”
Maggie continues, “Most of us can add one or two items to our regular shopping lists. It may be a small thing for us but it is a BIG thing for someone else. And since the commitment is relatively small, people who don’t normally volunteer at church join in this outreach.”
Behind every family is a story, and sometimes there are several stories. Maggie says, “One family we helped just had a bad run . . . a car accident with injuries, on top of the financial issues they were experiencing. Our church helped with the Christmas presents but also connected them with people who could help them with transportation until they could get a working car.”
Dave recalls, “I’ve been touched by the people who come in with tears in their eyes. They are thankful to simply have the opportunity to share Christmas with their family and our program gives them a way to do that.”
Sally reflects, “Every year I am brought to tears through at least one story, but usually it happens several times throughout the day. The ones that touch me most are the families who have had a sudden loss of income or a major life change and they just don’t know how Christmas is going to happen. When they hear of our program, you can just hear the relief in their voices.”
Alicia shares, “We’re excited that this ministry has grown by 75% since 2018. It’s amazing how the word gets out. This year a family who has benefited from the ministry in the past reached out to us for help—because of COVID this year the mom found herself without a job. She was so grateful to know the ministry is still around to help her again in her time of need.”
The Least of These
Jesus said that whenever we reach out to those who are hungry or thirsty or in need of clothes, that we are in fact ministering to him. “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me” (Matthew 25:40, NLT).
Alicia affirms, “It’s very clear. God calls us to love those who are poor and it’s not our job to decide if they are worthy of the help. When we help the least of these we are helping him.”
The date is set for the Little Angels Shoppe tomorrow, Saturday, December 12, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Parents will come to Christ’s Church so they can choose Christmas gifts for their children. Volunteers will help them choose gifts, wrap presents, talk with them, carry bags to their cars, and pray with them for God’s blessings on their lives. If you’d like to help with this process tomorrow, you can sign up here. Thanks to the generosity of God’s people, there will be over about 900 gifts available for shopping tomorrow.
Alicia summarizes, “I love that I get to love on these families in person. I spend hours mailing, tallying totals, circling numbers, passing out tickets, collecting gifts, and organizing the Shoppe. And I love that it is all to see parents come to our church where they can feel the love of Christ from strangers—just like I did as a child.”