The Need is Great and Real
Perhaps we have all been there at one point or another in our lives – when the job ended in November, or unexpected expenses made Christmas money difficult. Maybe you remember what it is like to tell your children that there won’t be much Christmas this year, or like one mom said to her children – “Santa’s sleigh doesn’t extend this far.”
If you have found yourself at that difficult spot at one point or another in your life, then you will understand the heart of Mission Arlington.® We know that you do understand, because you have provided Christmas toys, trees and bikes in an unprecedented way. Day after day, you have given, so that our community’s children will have something under their tree. We wish you could see the tears of relief and joy that roll down the cheeks of moms and dads whose children will have Christmas because you gave.
The Christmas Story
Meeting the needs of our community’s families is important to us, but there is another reason that we do Christmas like we do. We want as many as possible to know the story of Christmas encapsulated in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ as it was described in the Gospel narratives of Matthew and Luke. Christmas gifts will last for a season, but a relationship with Christ will last eternally. It is for this reason that you will hear Tillie say that the Mission Arlington® family “celebrates Christmas 365 days a year.” Truly, every day is another day to share God’s love as we care for people in authentic ways.
- The Christmas Store is a place where parents choose free gifts for their children. It started small over 30 years ago, but has grown to be a large endeavor to provide Christmas gifts for families in need. Last year, 33,700 children received Christmas toys, bikes, trees, and an assortment of other gifts. Though the numbers aren’t tabulated yet, it looks like this year’s store may have made our biggest impact yet. Thank you.
- Adopt a Family – In addition to our Christmas Store, we connect donors with families in need. Donors tell us how many children they would like to provide for, and Mission Arlington® connects these families with their gifts. Often, the donors get to meet the families in a sweet moment of celebration. This year’s adopt a family program was as large as ever.
- Bicycle donations – We have a team of people who take old bikes and repair them, providing new parts, until the bike is nearly new. These restored bikes are provided to children and teenagers throughout the Christmas season. The Bikes for Mission Arlington® team collected more bikes than ever before this year. Individuals, families, and other teams also brought bikes. We believe we may have given out more brand new bikes this year than at any other time.
- Angel Trees – Sometimes individuals and/or groups want to provide for a certain number of children or groups of children. The Mission family will then provide the names, ages, and Christmas wish lists for these individual children and connect the two groups together.
- Christmas Parties – Companies, civic groups, corporations, student groups and more will throw a Christmas party for Mission Arlington® children. Usually, this involves a dinner, a gift exchange of some kind, and the appearance of Santa Claus. The children who receive are always so blessed, not just by the gifts, but by the heart and the spirit of the team who gives to make a difference.
The apostle Paul points us to a statement Jesus made which still rings true today – “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:38). The interesting truth is that the people who give aren’t necessarily rich themselves, giving out of an abundant overflow of stuff they wouldn’t need or use anyway. In fact, most people who gave to help others this season gave from their heart, out of genuine love, and often sacrificially. Yet, as we saw the tears fall, and the smiles grow large, we knew that the givers themselves were truly being blessed.
A Merry Christmas
If caring for others makes Christmas Merry, then truly this will be a Merry Christmas all across our community this year. Thank you so much for loving the Lord and loving people like you do. On Christmas morning, as you open the gifts around your tree, and celebrate with your families, please know that you’ve made a difference here. Children who would not have had a Christmas any other way are opening their gifts too. That is truly a gift of love.
From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas