Christmas Store spreads joy of the season

Christmas Store spreads joy of the season

By Kelly Stewart

Opinions Editor

Hundreds of volunteers had the opportunity to play Santa this past weekend when they helped out at the Christmas Store, an effort by Valley Ranch Baptist Church to provide underprivileged children with presents this season.

Through a partnership with Cornerstone Baptist Church, Valley Ranch has been able to provide aid to families in South Dallas needing a little help for the holidays. Cornerstone reviews each family to determine the need and register children for the store.

Then when the time comes, their parents (or grandparents) go to Valley Ranch via buses that the church provides, while children are watched at Cornerstone. The guests are then provided with dinner and are taken to each of the gift rooms set up by age group to shop for Christmas presents.

“This is our 11th year to do the Cornerstone Christmas Store,” Minister of Community and Global Missions Amy Wilkins said. “I know this year we registered 1,325 children, which means about 450 or 500 adults [visit the store]. Cornerstone registers all of our guests that come from South Dallas they go through the local elementary schools. We also have guests from Coppell and Valley Ranch, and we go through three elementary schools as well.”

The church’s aim is to give the Christmas Store the atmosphere of a normal shopping experience, as well as to give the guests the greatest amount of comfort they can.

One aspect of the Christmas Store that was implemented last year was the GPS position.

“GPS stands for ‘Guide, Pray, Serve’,” Wilkins said. “And that is a person who will walk through the entire store with them and get to know them and develop a relationship with them. Then toward the end of the Christmas Store while [the guests] are waiting for their gifts to be wrapped, they will have a chance to go into the sanctuary and [the GPS] will share the Gospel with them, and [they will] pray for each other. Not just us for them, but have them pray for us as well.”

Valley Ranch looks to form lasting relationships with their guests, and the GPS will call the guests and even spend time with them after the Store is over.

“As we get to walking along, we get to speak to them, talk to them about their family, the age of the kids and what their interested in,” GPS Bill Wilson said. “And also what their situation is, what church do they attend and [we get the opportunity] to be able to, somewhere in the line, you’ll find out what we need to pray for, and once we get to the sanctuary we get to share the gospel with them.”

The people in charge of planning the Christmas Store start months in advance, raising money by auctioning off items people donate and using it to buy high-quality gifts for their guests to choose from.

No one can truly measure the good that the Store does, but one can get a good idea just by looking around.

“[The Store] means a whole lot,” guest Lilian Cluis said. “The people here are great. They greet you very nicely and introduce themselves, and I am overwhelmed by the way they treat you.”

Valley Ranch also has a second Christmas Store in Lima, Peru, in partnership with the local church, El Buene Pastor.

 

Christmas Store 2011 from Coppell Student Media on Vimeo.