be merrier for nearly 2,000 children in Oregon this year
because of an outreach orchestrated by several Assemblies
of God ministries. From the inner city to rural logging
towns children in hospitals, shelters, day-care centers
and subsidized housing will receive a Christmas stocking
packed with toys, candies, school supplies, toiletries and
Driver, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Portland, Ore.,
helps fill wagons with stockings for distribution at
a local hospital.
"For a lot
of kids this will be the only toy or gift they will receive
for Christmas," says Dorothy Driver, who pastors Cornerstone
Church in Portland with her husband, Duane. "By teaming
with other churches it equips us with the tools to touch
Across the state
hundreds of volunteers make and stuff the stockings and
then send them to inner-city ministries, like Cornerstone,
for distribution. Others, like Rainier First Assembly (Garry
Siegenthaler, pastor), distribute the stockings in their
family, who attend Rainier First, volunteer each year to
fill three stockings and deliver them to various agencies
and homes. Rhonda Probasco says her children are learning
valuable life lessons because of it.
learned to give to other people and that its nice
to share," she says. "Its important for
them to see there are children in need."
First started the program four years ago, children began
bringing unwrapped toys from their fast-food meals for stocking
stuffers. Members from the church contacted several restaurants
and retail stores for donations, which soon followed.
a group effort," says Doris Peterson, who attends the
church. "This year we will stuff and distribute nearly
Church, in Tualatin, members of the Womens Ministries
"adopted" more than 100 stockings. According to
Kenneth Vanderhoff, pastor of the church, the stockings
will be sent to inner-city ministries in nearby Portland.
The church participates in the program, says Vanderhoff,
so children will know that someone cares for them and God
outreach began nine years ago at Cornerstone Church. As
word of the ministry spread, churches began a network. Members
of Sunday school classes, women and mens ministries,
youth groups and families volunteered to make and fill stockings.
Teen Challenge student-residents were enlisted to help dispense
the stockings in Portland. Driver says it became evident
that more than the recipients felt blessed by the giveaway.
touches many lives," says Driver. "Many people
in our church dont have the means to give. But they
have the joy of getting to go out and dispense these stockings."
costs about $12 to make and fill. Besides stuffed animals,
coloring books, stickers and gum, some churches include
Bibles, gospel tracts or cards in the stockings.
James Boyd, pastor
of Portland Metro Church, says more than 15 churches will
send stockings to his church this year. The partnership
has encouraged him.
there is unity, love and a concern for the people of the
inner city," he says. "The outreach is a blessing
to our community."
Church has expanded the stocking ministry to include a Christmas
gift bag for adults. Congregants purchase the bags, which
contain popular Christian books, the Jesus video and candy,
then give them to non-Christian friends and family. The
gift bags and stockings are not promotional material for
any one church, Vanderhoff says. Instead, they are evangelism
tools that let others know someone else cares.
little ways of letting people know someone loves them,"
he says. "People dont always understand the gift
of eternal life so we give them gifts we hope will eventually
lead to their acceptance of the greatest gift of all