Looking for a way to serve and connect with your community this Christmas season? Ashley, a kidmin leader in LA shared with me about a special Christmas Shoppe event his church puts on every year, where his church provides a Christmas shopping experience to needy families in the area:
“We have several low-income families in our campus areas and they would not be able to provide Christmas for their kiddos, so we provide that experience for them. We have different themes each year: last year was Polar Express with trains running around the tops of the lobby walls and this year will be a Christmas farm with red trucks, string lights, and trees.”
To communicate with families who may want to participate, Ashley’s church goes through their school systems, counselors, and those who know the families that need help. They use these connections to share an application to attend the Christmas Shoppe Event. The application asks for family details and clothing/shoe sizes.
On the event day, parents come to the church campus with their children and are encouraged NOT to tell their kids what’s going to happen. Staff and volunteers at the church then take the children to a separate area while the parents shop. Kids make ornaments, watch Christmas movies, decorate Christmas cookies, do all kinds of fun crafts, and eat tasty treats. Meanwhile, their parents hear the story of Christmas from one of the pastors before being paired with a shopping “elf” who’ll take them into the Shoppe area (all decorated, music playing, and smiling faces all over). In the Shoppe area, parents get to pick out some toys for their children, shoes, jackets, grab stocking stuffers, a candy bag, and a family Bible or child’s Bible. Before leaving, parents head to a wrapping station where THEY get to wrap their children’s gifts, sign cards, and make fun bows. Ashley says the parents get REALLY into it and enjoy the opportunity to choose and wrap the presents themselves.
Before leaving, families also receive a $25-$50 Walmart gift card for groceries, diapers, milk, and anything else they may need. Finally, the prayer team prays over the families before they load up their cars and pick up their children. There’s even a family photo opportunity so families can take home a nice picture of their whole family – sometimes with Santa and Ms. Claus.
“The amazing thing is is that the entire family gets to serve at this event. With this being our 4th year to have Christmas Shoppe, we even have some particpating parents from our 1st year who now serve weekly on the team and have become part of our church community and church body. We LOVE Christmas Shoppe and we’re always planning for the next one BEFORE this one even starts!!” – Ashley
Check out a little footage from a past Christmas Shoppe event below, and find even more details and documents for hosting your own Christmas Shoppe event here