For most, Christmas is a time for giving. We enjoy that look of glee on a person’s face when they open a special gift. But for many in the Parkland area, there is no season of giving, no special present or even a tree to put one under.
For the last few years, Meadow Heights Church has reached out to their community and help those through a program aptly named LOVEWORKS.
“It is a way for our church to give back and show the mission of our church into the community,” said Adam Overcast, a member of Meadow Heights Farmington. “It is a way to shine our light into the community and to be able to take this time of abundance and make some people who don’t have – have.”
According to Jeremiah Dietiker, the Farmington pastor, the three Meadow Heights Churches - Farmington, Fredericktown and Arcadia Valley - reach out into their own community and find who needs their help.
“Adam makes a call to a lot of organizations and places to find out what kind of need they might have in their area, especially around the idea of family and children,” Dietiker said. “As those needs rise, we kind of narrow on six and put something together, so our people can give both monetarily and with their time.”
This year, the Farmington church community has decided to help six different local organizations fill the gap in their needs.
One of the six organizations they are working with this holiday season is Operation Christmas Child. The church set out to fill 450 shoes boxes in order to make Christmas special for children in underdeveloped countries.
“This has been our biggest year,” Overcast said. “Our goal was 450 shoeboxes, but we actually collected 520. From what I have been told, this is one of the biggest single donations from any single church.”
The second of the church’s six mission is CiCi's Community Christmas Dinner where the church donates food and volunteerism.
“This year we did 20 hams for the dinner,” Overcast said. “The dinner is open to anyone.”
For the second year in a row, the church has also donated their time and essentials for the Foster Backpack Program. Many times, when children are taken from a bad situation to stay with a foster family, typically they do not have anything but the clothes on their backs.
“When children are taken out of school or home, most of the time they don’t have anything they can call their own,” Overcast said. “So inside the backpacks we put a toothbrushes and toothpaste, underwear, pajamas, a book, a notepad, a bear – stuff they can say ‘this stuff is mine'.”
The church has also working with the Parkland Pregnancy Resource Center. In the past they have collected diapers and wipes. This year, they are also collecting baby soap and shampoo. According to Overcast, as of Dec. 3, they were only 50 items away from reaching their goal of 200 soaps or shampoos.
During the holiday season, the church has also pledged 50 hours of bell ringing to the United Way. According to Overcast, people will volunteer to ring bells in front of Walmart for one hour.
Finally, the church has participated in the Help the Hungry Bake Sale by providing 20 breads, cakes and pies - but, most importantly, with time.
“We called Chris Landrum and asked what their biggest need (was) and discovered they could really use people to help clean up,” Dietiker said. “So we found some volunteers, and when the ladies were done with their job, we came in and cleaned up.”
With all six projects, Dietiker said their mission is not to re-invent the wheel but to help organizations who are already out in the community.
“When it comes to the needs of the community, there are already organizations set up for those needs,” Dietiker said. “We are trying to work with these organizations, who are doing some wonderful work, and rally around them.”
The great thing about LOVEWORKS, according to Dietiker, is the program allows the church and their individual members to work both collectively and separately.
“When we look at these six specific things, we ask 'what can my family put together...what can I get my kids get involved in?'” Dietiker said. “We are trying to put families together to help other families within their own community and let them see mission is more than overseas, but in their own backyard.”