By George and Chris Binger, and Pastor Nancy Lee Goff
In 2009 a small Sunday school class had a vision to develop a Christmas gift-giving program that would provide families in need with several gifts of their choice for each of their children. With the suggestion from a dear sister in Christ of how it could be done, God took this idea and blessed it beyond our wildest imaginations!
Our first year, we set up at our recreation field in a one car garage and pavilion. We had raised over $8,000 to supply toys for nearly 500 children of 200 Perry County families. We gave each child two new toys and also had a variety of items donated such as: hand-made blankets and quilts, gloves, hats, scarves and even a few Christmas trees. Families stood for hours waiting to select toys for their children. It was a blessing that we will never forget. We had many conversations throughout that year of the blessings each and every person who served on that cold winter day had experienced.
Our second year was even better! We moved operations to the Shermans Dale ambulance building and we had over ten different partners making handmade quilts and donating toys. At the end of the event, we had provided toys to 400 children from 139 families. Each child also left with a handmade quilt, hats, gloves, scarves, books, stuffed animals, bibles, coloring books and crayons!
Again, we had donated Christmas trees available for the first 15 families who indicated a need for one. We also selected three needy families from all of the participants and delivered complete Christmas dinner kits to each of them several days before Christmas.
In 2012 we partnered with Join Hands Ministry, Inc. of New Bloomfield* and are still doing so to date. Giant Foods have generously donated gift cards which we have been able to give to eight lucky families. Along with that, several local tree farms have been donating Christmas trees. That year we provided toys for 333 children of 138 families.
In 2013 we helped 288 children of 133 families and we provided socks for the children along with items donated by Crayola. There were 35 Christmas Trees and 8/$25 Giant gift cards donated for the event.
Now in 2015 we helped 453 children of 190 families. We were able to bless 15 families with $25 Giant Gift cards and 1 family with a $25 gift card to Karnes. Sixty-three Christmas trees were donated for the families to enjoy!
The Christmas Treasures Committee is headed up by George Binger. He is joyful in his leadership of this great mission. There are numerous individuals who help in the program. We have parking lot greeters, shopper helpers, hosts/hostesses, those helping with the Christmas trees, and folks who pray with each family.
God has truly blessed us and many others through this ministry.
*Join Hands Ministry, Inc. is a mission of the Perry County United Methodist Cluster. It is a ministry to help those in need (electric, rent, pharmaceuticals, etc.). It is an Advance Special of the Susquehanna Conference.