Christmas wishes come true (Story 46 of 50)
Updated: Feb 5
CCHO is celebrating 50 years of ministry! Throughout 2019, we will be sharing stories of the lives that have been forever changed by the work God has done through our family of ministries (CCHO, Encourage Foster Care and Encompass Christian Counseling). In story #46 of our 50 Stories for 50 Years of Ministry series, we will share about our annual wish list program. Individuals, families, churches and businesses contribute an array of thoughtfully chosen gifts to make Christmas magical and meaningful for our kids.
The youth in our residential center may not wake up in their own homes with their own families on Christmas morning, but because of kind and loyal supporters, they do wake up to an astonishing example of love. Each year, we are blown away by this demonstration of generosity for our kids. As Christians, we know Christmas isn’t about the gifts, but our wish list program is a meaningful and memorable expression of God’s extravagant love for us, passed on to children who may never have experienced it before. We are truly grateful for the joy you give at Christmas. Through your support, these children experience their worth in Christ.
Here are stories from three wish list supporters and how this program has impacted their families and communities.
Beth Magill, Bridge Street Church of Christ, Wish List donors for 19 years Bridge Street Church of Christ has supported CCHO for many years. We started participating in the wish list program with CCHO as a service project for our Higher Hope Youth Group. We as youth leaders thought it was a great way to give to the kids at CCHO and lead by example for our Higher Hope kids. We call our outreach “Holiday Smiles” and our members both young and old look forward to the wish list display going up each year. Most of the time our youth group kids pick a child to shop for that is their age because kids know what kids want. This program instills and encourages responsibility and awareness in our Higher Hope kids of giving to others and teaches compassion.
This is the 20th year of “Holiday Smiles” for our church. My son Dylan was a newborn when we started this annual program 20 years ago. Over the years, we have partnered with other local congregations, and the last four years, we have partnered with the Student Social Work Association (SSWA) at Ohio University Chillicothe. We hope to continue the “Holiday Smiles” tradition for many years to come. Many of our Higher Hope members have expressed interest in continuing this mission work. My son, Austin, who is now a youth leader, has been inspired by this mission and now leads several other outreach efforts to show the love of Christ in our community and abroad.
Cindy McCory, ReMax Showcase, Wish List donors for 5 years I’ve been involved in helping CCHO for over 5 years. I was initially introduced through a friend who had fostered a couple boys through CCHO, and I wanted to help in some small way. I have four of my own children who I wanted to include in the process, so we started shopping for a child or two every Christmas. I would have each of my kids give up at least one of their Christmas gifts and took them individually shopping to pick out a gift for a child we were assigned. Every year I would bring my kids and their friends to wrap gifts for at least one cottage during the season. As my children grew, it became part of their Christmas and they had even taken on their own lists to organize and buy for. We would usually try to be available for any last-minute kids who needed gifts. It is not only a great way to help bring Christmas to kids who are in need, but an opportunity for my children to learn the real meaning of Christmas. As my kids left for college, I started including my co-workers at Re/Max to help sponsor kids. I am certain that participating in the program blesses the donors just as much as the children on Christmas morning. It brings Christmas into perspective.
The Ballentine Family, Wish List donors for 10 years We love to participate in the program to hopefully give some kids hope and share the love of God. To let them know, there are people who love them and want them to have their physical desires met by God’s grace and love for them. It has been a blessing to receive the kids lists, review them, then go shopping to search out the things they’ve asked for. Honestly, I also love the challenge of finding things they want, trying to figure out “who they are” through the notes of hobbies/favorite color, etc. and finding things that they will love. On Christmas morning, before opening our gifts, we pray a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s generous gifts toward us and we pray for the kids at CCHO who are opening the gifts we purchased. Praying they are surprised and unbelievably blessed by them.