Carols and hot chocolate, red and green lights, time with family and friends, these are all things that remind us Christmas is on it's way.
Here at GFA World, one of the first signs of Christmas is the familiar red and green Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. In early November a shipment of boxes arrived from Samaritan's Purse ready to be folded and filled with treasures for children around the world. Throughout the month, the boxes are available in our office for pickup for anyone in our community who wants to participate in this Christmas tradition.
GFA World, located at 245 King Street East in Stoney Creek, is also the home of Believers Eastern Church, an evangelical, indigenous church movement around the world that we serve alongside, as an international mission organization.
We were excited for the opportunity that Believer’s Eastern Church had to partner with Operation Christmas Child (OCC) as a Shoebox Collection Centre for Stoney Creek and the surrounding area, during OCC National Collection Week, November 19-24.
This was our second time serving as a collection centre and we were blessed to see the number of shoeboxes grow from over 400 in 2018 to over 700 this year. Throughout the week we welcomed generous donations from individuals, churches and organizations in the area. GFA World staff and students volunteered their time to greet donors and receive shoebox gifts during our hours of operation.
Operation Christmas Child is a hands-on project that brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoeboxes packed by Canadians. It is one way to remind children suffering as a result of war, poverty, famine, disease, and disaster that they are loved and not forgotten.
Since its beginning in 1990, shoebox gifts have been delivered to more than 157 million children in over 130 countries. In 2018, Canadians donated 517,437 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Each shoebox is given regardless of a child’s gender, race, or religion.
Another much-anticipated event of the season is our Annual Community Christmas Tree Lighting at GFA World.
On Saturday, December 14 at 7:00pm, we welcomed our neighbours for the lighting of three large Christmas trees on our property as well as singing Christmas carols by candlelight, enjoying free hot chocolate and homemade treats. Many of our visitors brought along an item to put in our donation box for the food bank.
Twenty-two people from our neighbourhood came out for the evening including two special guests. Ward Councillor Maria Pearson brought Christmas greetings on behalf of Ward 10, where our office is located, and lit the Christmas trees. Ben Winters, manager of the Stoney Creek food bank, shared with us from his journey to volunteering at the food bank and how our donations are part of impacting needy families in our community. In 2018, the foodbank, located in the former Creek Community Church building at 605 Highway 8, Stoney Creek, assisted around 900 individuals December 3-20.
The Christmas Tree Lighting event began in 2017 and has continued for three years in a row. In spite of the sometimes unpredictable weather, we always have a wonderful time celebrating the true meaning of Christmas together with our community.