Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 6, 2012

Church tradition of giving returns

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — With so much stress involved in making the holiday season happy for loved ones, it doesn’t help when one is without the means to provide.

Helping those in Garvin County at least for another year is the return of one of the most popular charities through Elmore City First Baptist Church, its annual Christmas Free-For-All.

Set to go Saturday on site, Dec. 8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., it has created a way for those struggling to provide Christmas cheer for about a couple of decades now through making available for free everything from clothing to houseware and toys.

“We’ve been doing it for about 20 years now and it’s just a really good ministry,” said church secretary Linda Medford.. “People come from all over.”

Part of what has helped it work out so well for so long is how it also depends on people from surrounding communities to donate either new or used items, said Medford.

The church will take items over at their family life center located at 200 South Texas Avenue up until Saturday morning and if someone wishes to donate money they will use that to purchase items needed as well.

The biggest need again will be items like coats and shoes as well as clean slightly used toys or new ones since those things always run out first despite how many are donated, said Medford.

There were as many as 300 coats given out to children last year and items are separated into different rooms so kids or adults can feel somewhat like they each have their own shopping experience.

“People just come in and they can’t believe how much stuff there is,” said Medford, noting how the only people they will turn away are consignment hunters since that only takes away from someone in need.

“They don’t have to bring proof of anything, just come as they are.”

There is even a prayer board placed at the family life center for people to voice needs or concerns and this is important for the congregation since someone who sees the board might be able to answer a person’s plea. Gift wrapping is also available for those who want to wait until Christmas to open a gift.

“You never know, God might send someone along that can meet those needs,” said Medford. “It’s kind of putting people in connection with other people.”

Though they have had to store donations off site in years past there is no such thing as too much and they will even take still functioning furniture or appliances, said Medford.

In case there is anything left there is no waste there either and those items are given to other non-profit charities afterwards.

“When they walk out their arms are full and their hearts are full and it just fills you with the love of Christmas,” said Medford. “That’s what Christmas is all about.”

For more information or to donate to the cause, the church can be reached at 580-788-4110. The offices can accept donations each day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.