There is an amazing thing that happens 20 feet from my office. Trees show up on the walls of our Prayer Walk Hallway and nothing gets me in the Christmas mood faster than watching them. For my money, these are the Real Trees of Christmas!
At New Hope, we have a long tradition at Christmas. Individual and family needs are identified and attached to a "tree." People decide which needs they can meet, shop for the request and bring it back in time for Christmas. We are not alone in this. Many churches have their version of a Giving Tree and it is something we have done for many years.
Until we couldn't.
The needs increased every year. At some point, there were so many needs they didn't all fit. So we stopped doing a Giving Tree...and created The Giving Forest!
Every year there is a transformation of the trees in our Giving Forest.
First, the trees show up heavy with the requests and needs from people in our community.
Within a couple weeks, the trees become bare as all the requests
Last Sunday was our annual "Big Sort" when all those gifts come back in and get sorted by households so that all the right gifts get to the right people. As a result of all that generosity and work, this year's Giving Forest resulted in...
- 57 Families were served and will have a more abundant Christmas.
- 166 different adults and children will be recipients of...
- 416 total presents that were identified, claimed, bought and brought back in time to be distributed. Beyond that, another...
- $1,275 in Gift Certificates were purchased and distributed.
This is amazing to watch all these gifts get sorted and readied for the families to arrive. It is worth a whole post in itself and I'll do that a little later. The families have arrived and as of today, most of the gifts are gone.
But this story isn't done, yet. As the gifts go out, the trees of the Giving Forest start to fill up again. This time the trees become covered in Thank You notes! As I am writing this, the thank you notes have just started to come in. More will arrive as we get closer to Christmas and it is inspiring to watch the transformation.
For all those that helped make our Giving Forest- and the Real Trees of Christmas, such a blessing for so many people. Thank you!