Merry Christmas to you and your families. Many folks will wake up to a full house of family, stacks of gifts under the Christmas tree, and plans to have a wonderful Christmas Day. Let’s all take a moment to thank God for the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus, and share this message with our families. Join me also to ask God to bring comfort and joy to those that may have a different type of day planned; our military who are not at home, the elderly who have no one or have been forgotten, or those that for one reason or another plan to celebrate without their family around today.

We know at least 500+ children that received gifts from Love INC’s Christmas Shared Blessings event who are having a blessed day. Thank you all again for making this possible. This Christmas Shared Blessing event, we again offered prayer stations manned with prayer warriors. Many families and individuals turned to these prayer warriors throughout the day. What a privilege it was to pray with these folks. Many of our volunteers were touched at what an honor it was to share these private moments of praise and surrender with the families. We prayed over health problems, job searches, broken relationships, dysfunction, finances, gave thanks and praise, and much more. It seems that many families and individuals had similar situations that cause heartache, sadness and many times depression.

Every family was allowed to choose three toys, and their choice of either a pair of pajamas, a hoodie, or a new pair of shoes per child. We mentioned several new donors last week in anticipation of the event, but want to take time to thank again Brooks Quinn Jones Elementary and Raguet Elementary for their pajama drives. The pajamas were a huge help, and we welcome more schools to join us in pajama drives in the future. We want to thank Pineywoods Apartment Association for their coat drive. Gently used coats in mostly adult sizes were offered to those who needed a coat. They were a welcome surprise to those who received a coat. Tipton Ford supplied a variety of sizes of bicycles; one for every car purchased within a certain time frame. Joe Max Green Insurance donated canned goods and other non-perishable items for us to fix boxes of groceries. First Baptist Church Children’s Ministry donated small, pre-decorated Christmas trees. We offered drawings throughout Christmas Shared Blessings allowing families their choice of either a bicycle, a box of food, or a tree – whichever they needed the most. In total, we held nearly fifty drawings for these extra special items and the families were overjoyed. Several other individuals and business made very generous anonymous donations. We want to say thank you.

The ROTC group from SFA came on our set-up day and unloaded boxes, moved tables, sorted toys, and made the set-up an absolute dream for us. Their smiling faces, willing attitudes and work ethic were a blessing to all of our seasoned volunteers. The wrapping paper drive was most appreciated by the families. This seemingly small gesture made such a difference to the parents. We plan to continue the Wrapping Paper drive in the future. We also had some shoes left from the Back to School Shoe Drive that we shared with families. There was an overwhelming unexpected response to the shoes.

The one constant theme I hope for and pray for is that everyone will know the peace and joy that only Jesus can provide. When your situation makes you unhappy or sad, remember Jesus and His promises. Remember, He created you for His glory, not your own, and He has a purpose for you and your life. I have borrowed the following from something I read recently: “Jacob was a cheater; Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah was a drunk, Sarah was impatient, Zacchaeus was short, Abraham was old, Thomas was a doubter, Paul was a murderer, and Lazarus was dead! God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. You were born for His purpose, so He has the plan.” Merry Christmas.

Notes to remember:

• We will be closed for Christmas from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6.

• Kingdom Gifts Store will reopen after Jan. 6. If you have an item to donate that you want to designate for the repurposing store, please bring to the Love INC office during regular business hours. All items will go through the regular inventory selection process. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Current case

Client on fixed income needs assistance with utilities. The client’s disabled spouse was recently hospitalized which caused the client to take a leave of absence from work. After the spouse was released from the hospital, the client still could not return to work because someone had to care for their loved one. Love INC helped the clients apply for in- home provider services, and the client eventually returned to work. The client is employed full time but due to the gap in employment is still behind on bills. At this time, they are needing assistance in the amount of $200. If you can help with this request, please write SOS Utilities on your check memo.

Patti Goodrum is executive director of Love INC.

Patti Goodrum is executive director of Love INC.

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