Christ Methodist Church breaks ‘angels’ recordBy NIKKI ROWELL,
From food drives to gift giving, Christ United Methodist Church (CUMC) is working to spread Christmas cheer throughout the Northside this holiday season.
CUMC associate pastor Sheila Cumbest said the church had a record year with their “angel” tree. Each year, they work with five different organizations to find children in need.
Individuals select a child from the tree, which only lists their age, sex and some items that they want for Christmas.
The church had a record-breaking 100 “angels” this year through the following organizations: Northtown Development Center, Methodist Children’s Home, Mississippi Families for Kids, Mustard Seed and Guardians of Justice.
“We put these needs out there and individuals select a child,” Cumbest said.
When members of the congregation come to select a child, they get a large bag to store the gifts in unwrapped. When the shopping is done, they return the full bags back to the church.
Church members go out to each of the five organizations to deliver the gifts. The organizations distribute the gifts to the families.
The congregation also works with two global partners year-round in Kenya and Costa Rica.
“People adopt those children there, and through monetary donations they pay for school tuition or school uniforms or school supplies or food,” Cumbest said. “The money goes towards those things.”
Aside from giving out gifts, the church also helps put on Christmas parties for some organizations.
At Northtown Child Development Center, volunteers from the church do a reading program with children called “Ready Readers.”
They throw a Christmas party each year for the children who attend the reading program and provide snacks, as well as a handmade backpack filled with books for each child.
“We do get to see the individual children and give to them that way,” Cumbest said. “It’s one of the times we get that face to face contact, so that’s really fun.”
A group at CUMC church, called Susanna Stitchers, make the book bags that they fill with books for the party.
They work with other churches to throw a Christmas party for the Methodist Children’s Home each year.
A group from the church provided crocheted scarves, hats and afghans for the children.
“We provide extra gifts and food for the Christmas party at Methodist Children’s Home each year,” Cumbest said.
CUMC does something a little different for the children involved in The Connection group.
A group of children from the Ridgeland area works with the church throughout the year.
“As they participate with us all year, they earn ‘money’ as they help with clean-up each week,” Cumbest said. “We use our own paper to print play money.”
Around Christmas time, members of the church donate items to have a Christmas store for the children.
They get to purchase things for their families with the play money they get throughout the year.
“This teaches them how to give back and how to earn,” Cumbest said. “It also teaches responsibility. They learn to earn and save to then give something to someone else.”
Then, the children also give back by taking gifts to The Home Place and singing Christmas carols for all the residents.
Beginning at Thanksgiving, the congregation collects items for a coat and food drive for Stewpot.
Cumbest said they collect three grocery carts filled with food each week.
They deliver around 100 coats and approximately 1,800 pounds of food for Stewpot each year.
And for those who did not get on an organization’s list for help, Cumbest said the church often helps those who come in last minute in need.
“We usually have two or three people that we help who just walk in,” she said. “We give gift cards or go and buy things to take those children.”
“I just think there are a lot of generous people in this world and they just want every child to experience the joy of Christmas,” she said. “We just want them to know that people love them and thought of them.”