Element Church members prepare Giving Tree gifts
Element Church members Tripp Hammett and Hallie Phillips prepare Giving Tree gifts for disadvantaged families

Local churches, businesses, and individuals participated in the Giving Tree program this week to provide Christmas gifts for children of disadvantaged families in Woodruff.

The mission of the Giving Tree outreach, which originates from the Woodruff Community Center, is to furnish Christmas gifts to parents who have found themselves financially unable to provide for their children this year.

Woodruff News met with staff and members of Element Church on Sunday night as they distributed Christmas gifts to families in need. The Element effort was orchestrated by Lead Pastor Bill Thomason, Ministry Administrator Bekki Phillips, and Worship Pastor Brad Phillips, but nearly every member of their congregation played a role in the outreach.

Gifts from the Giving Tree program at Element Church
A Christmas stocking for an 8-year old boy waits to be picked up at Element Church

Taking the lead as coordinator of the Giving Tree at Element, Bekki Phillips collected names of parents needing assistance from the Woodruff Community Center and contacted them for their child’s specific wishes. Using that information she created tickets to represent the needs of a specific family or child, or of an individual gift.

Then after a Sunday service, the Element fellowship chose tickets to sponsor. One member of Element who participated, Tripp Hammett, said “being able to help people who aren’t able to provide for their own family, and tie that together with God’s love, is a great way to spread the Christmas spirit and convey the real meaning of Christmas.”

Pastor Bill Thomason holds the door as church member Emilee Phillips rolls a bike out to the car of a family in need

The church asks the parents in need to pick up the gifts, instead of giving them directly to the kids, so the children don’t necessarily have to know where they came from. “It’s important to us to empower the parents to give the gifts themselves, that’s why we don’t have the kids come in and receive them from the church.” stated Thomason. The gifts are wrapped and placed in black bags to help conceal them from the children.

Element Church hopes to raise awareness about the program so that every family in the community that is in need at Christmas time can sign up for the program. If you find yourself in hardship, or wish to sponsor a gift, contact the Woodruff Community Center or one of the participating churches directly to find out how to participate.

“We want to convey to families that regardless of what struggles life has thrown your way, there are people out there that want to help you, with no strings attached” – Pastor Bill Thomason

Other local churches that participated in the Giving Tree this year included Bellview Baptist, Cornerstone Baptist, Emma Gray United Methodist, Hope Fellowship, Mt. Zion CME, and the Woodruff Road Worship Center. Business that took part in the program included Henkel and Woodruff Chevrolet. In addition to the churches and businesses, Woodruff Community Center, Future Teachers of America, and several families and individuals contributed to the effort.

The Giving Tree is an excellent example of the cooperation and selfless spirit of the Woodruff non-profits, churches, businesses and families that work tirelessly to support those who are in need during the holidays and throughout the year.

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