Lake Christian Ministries’ Christmas tradition of providing gifts for local children in need will continue this year with a few changes due to the current pandemic.
Volunteers are already at work collecting toys and clothes for A Child’s Christmas program. Angel trees with cards for children in need were placed at businesses and churches last week. Program coordinator Lynda Imirie expects additional cards to go out in the coming weeks as more families sign up for the program.
Imirie said she and other longtime volunteers thought A Child’s Christmas would be canceled this year due to the pandemic. Despite the new hurdles they are facing to keep everyone safe, Imirie said volunteers asked that they move forward with offering the program.
“They convinced me that we had to find a way,” Imirie said.
One of the earliest challenges in organizing the program was signing up families and children for the program. With Lake Christian Ministries being closed much of the week, Imirie said volunteers had to meet with families in the parking lot when they came to receive free food assistance.
Most years families have been able to enter the Lake Christian Ministries building and sign up.
Another roadblock has been the need to limit large gatherings such as church services. Imirie said area churches that usually agree to host an angel tree have had to find new ways to get the information cards of children in need to church members.
Since Trinity Ecumenical Parish is not having in-person services, the church has provided cards in angel baskets at the church’s entrance. Resurrection Catholic Church has the information available in its offices for any member who calls and wants to participate.
“We are genuinely overwhelmed that the churches are making this extra effort,” Imirie said.
Once the items are collected, Imirie said organizing the collected toys and clothes will begin early next month. She said that process will also be different this year.
This year the number of volunteers working at one time will be limited to prevent too many people being together at once. Those working will also stay in separate areas, Imirie said.
Imirie said she expects there will be changes for families picking up the gifts as well. Instead of meeting inside one of the local churches, plans are to have volunteers meet families at their cars with the donated gifts.
While A Child’s Christmas may be more challenging this year, Imirie said she and other volunteers are glad to be able to provide this for families. “Christmas doesn’t change, no matter what is going on in the world,” she said.