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A Volunteer’s Experience at the 2014 Smiles At Christmas Event

There is little that can compare to a child’s smile on Christmas morning when he or she gets that wrapped gift. With great joy the child rips off the wrapping paper to expose the delight that was bought just for them. Many parents go through great lengths just for that special moment when they can witness such joy.

For some parents this gratification does not comes easy. Many (dads and moms) have lost their jobs, homes, cars, bank accounts and their life as they once knew it.
2014 Volunteers
They are living in shelters or tent cities or maybe on the streets fighting to stay afloat, especially with children. But this is Christmas, a time of giving and receiving and parents whether they have or have not, want to witness their children joy of receiving gifts on Christmas morning. Some have learned to be resourceful and thank God there is help to be found in the Northwest.

By calling a community resource number (211) they could find Mission Africa. This international nonprofit puts on a Christmas event called “Smiles at Christmas” annually and has done so for the last ten years. The event takes a lot of work on their part so they partner with other non prof-its and individuals to get toys, coats and volunteers to help make this day special for children and parents alike.

This year was no different. “Smiles at Christmas” was hosted by their very own Pastor Gordon and Derozette Banks at Overcomer’s Covenant Church in Auburn, WA. Although the day was gray and the rain kept falling, the event was well attended. 152 parents and guardians along with 358 children (12 and under) showed and waited patiently for the program to start and the shop-ping to begin. Some even had to stand in the rain, but most made the best of it … just for that smile on Christmas morning.

42 volunteers came ready to be used wherever needed. Some were from the church, others from different organizations, and still others were individuals who signed up on the Mission Afri-ca web site to volunteer. Pastor Mark and I volunteered our time and were appointed photogra-phers for the event. We surely enjoyed our role.

This event is well supported and I can imagine it will be even bigger next year. This is the only event Mission Africa does in the US. Most of their mission efforts are in Africa. But I heard the founders, Ikoro and Ndudi Chuku, of Mission Africa say, “We are so grateful for all the help we have receive here to help our villages in Africa. This is one way we can give back”.

With much pleasure they continue to help parents keep the spirit of Christmas alive in their chil-dren’s hearts with dignity.

Jeanette Wheeler, Writer
The Lord’s Commission Ministries

Click here for event pictures

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