ALL THEIR GIFTS: Congregations share their love and grace in abundance during Christmas season


A group from Realife Church helps out at Hancock County Food Pantry as part of the church’s recent Hope Week.

Photo provided

They call it Hope Week. It’s a week of serving others.

It’s when people of Realife Church serve several groups in the community, such as first-responders, Hancock Hope House and Hancock County Food Pantry.

“Realife is passionate about Hope Week because we exist to serve others by showing God’s love in practical ways through meeting needs within our community and sphere of influence,” Kristen Detamore wrote in an email. She and her husband, Adam, are Realife’s lead pastors. “Simple acts of personal kindness can open hearts to the love of Jesus for both those being served and those serving.”

The church also provided Christmas assistance for more than 30 families.

Many local churches, in addition to what they do throughout the year, have some additional way they reach out and give at Christmastime. They often do it quietly, year after year. This year the Daily Reporter asked a number of them what Christmas giving looks like in their congregation.

They told of toddler mittens. Farm livestock. Twenty baskets of household supplies. Presents for families in need. And more.

Put it all together, and there’s no tree big enough for these gifts to fit under it. Here’s what some of those gifts look like:

-Christ Presbyterian Church in McCordsville sponsored three families, with a total of 13 children and four adults. The men’s group Men of Christ sponsors an Angel Tree, and the whole congregation takes part in providing the gifts, writes the Rev. Gretchen Schneider.

The church’s Presbyterian Women’s Circles provided new pairs of socks and stuffed them with Christmas goodies, as well as toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion and other items. The Women of Christ Presbyterian Church also donated hats, scarves, gloves and mittens. The gifts will be delivered to families along with groceries for a Christmas dinner.

-Cross of Grace Lutheran Church in New Palestine bought gifts for foster children and families in Hancock County. The congregation also bought gifts for some youths aging out of foster care from Marion County. A small team from the church delivered gifts to sex workers on the eastside of Indianapolis. The church also plays host to a Christmas party with gifts and food for its SonRise ministry, a ministry with adults of differing physical and intellectual abilities; it meets at the church throughout the year.

Elementary-age children also raised more than $3,000 for the ELCA Good Gifts program, to buy farm animals and other goods and services (such as water cisterns, internet access, etc.) for people in need around the world, writes the Rev. Mark Havel.

-Fortville Christian Church sponsored families in need in the Mt. Vernon school district with gift cards to Meijer.

-Greenfield Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) conducted a food drive for the local pantry and donated warm clothes to Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen. It sponsored several Greenfield-Central families in need and donated new underwear and clothes for use in the district’s schools. It also donated to non-profit initiatives, including the Cops-4-Kids at Greenfield Police Department, Imagination Library, Alternatives Inc. and Love INC. The church is also a shelter in the COAD program that offers overnight shelter in extreme cold.

“Busy time for our downtown church!” writes Sharon Feister.

-Heather Hills Baptist Church is collecting donations to take to Kentucky for the tornado victims. It was also one of several local churches who packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. This church in Cumberland packed 70.

-Mercy Kids at Mercy Road Church Northeast in Fortville helped sponsor foster children for Christmas. A Hope Tree at the church bore gift requests from sponsored families, and people of the church took the ornament tag for the gifts they would donate.

The church also packed 1,000 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. “It is a big operation, and our house is full,” organizer Todd Troup said before a packing session in November.

-Toddlers received hats and mittens; Mohawk United Methodist Church collects these items for Head Start of Fortville and Greenfield. The church has done this for at least 40 years. People of the congregation drop them into a box the Missions Team sets out at church, and warm accessories are delivered before Christmas break. This year 47 sets were donated.

-Nameless Creek Christian Church buys new coats each year and gives them to local schools for families in need. “This year we donated 85 coats to Eastern Hancock and Knightstown schools,” writes the Rev. Charissa Ramey.

-St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Fortville helped 10 families in need this Christmas season through the parish’s Giving Tree.

-The Ladies Guild at Westland Friends Church, a Blue River Township congregation that began in 1840, has long helped people in need at Christmastime. Each year the guild sells items at a booth at the Riley Festival. Most of the money raised goes to the guild’s outreach efforts, many of them happening at Christmas.

“Our church put together 20 large baskets filled with all sorts of things from food to cleaning supplies to household items,” writes Brigette Cook Jones. “Some are going to local families in need, and some are going to Love INC.”

In 2020, that assistance took the form of the baskets, and the church is continuing that this year.

-People buy gifts for family members and friends, but do they buy one for Jesus? That’s the premise of the Giving to Christ at Christmas offering at Brandywine Community Church. This year’s offering, to be given Sunday, will help support three new churches in Indiana and Ohio who were affiliated with friends and family of the congregation.

“How often does Christ get lost in the midst of His birthday celebration? Sometimes the world we live in overlooks the fact that Christmas is not about us. It’s about Him!” Wright wrote in an email to the congregation. “That is why over the past decade, our church has made it our mission to begin our gift giving with a gift to Christ.”