Santa Claus took to the streets in Abilene’s poorest neighborhoods this week with a band of help that included ACU students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The ACU family joined hundreds of members of the local community to deliver toys and gifts during Love & Care Ministries’ annual Christmas on the Street, an effort to share the joy of Christmas with Abilenians in need.
Caitlin McKnight, a freshman communication disorders major from Pittsburg, Kan., was one of the volunteers. “It was an awesome experience. To see kids’ faces when they got handed a wrapped present or a brand new bike was truly amazing,” she said. “Your heart hurts for the families who can’t afford to get gifts for Christmas, but seeing their thankful faces makes you realize that God provides for everyone.”
McKnight experienced a special moment while delivering gifts to a woman who was raising six of her grandchildren as well as her own children.
“She had a baby on her hip, a 3-year-old holding her hand, two 6-year-olds following them, and then a 10-year-old and two 12-year-olds helping out with carrying the gifts,” McKnight said. “Seeing the joy on those kids’ faces and seeing the grateful look on the woman’s face made me so thankful that I got to be a part of this experience.”
“Christmas on the Street” was the final activity for Abilene Christian’s 2011 Season of Caring, a month-long campaign to provide holiday meals, clothing, toys and more to Abilene’s less fortunate. Several of the activities were done in partnership with Love & Care Ministries, which offers a year-round ministry to the homeless and poor.
During the 2011 Season of Caring, the ACU community:
- Provided 65 Thanksgiving food boxes to 57 families in the Taylor Elementary School neighborhood;
- Donated coats, blankets, sleeping bags, clothing and food for Mission Thanksgiving, sponsored annually by Love & Care Ministries;
- Gave toys and clothing to 60 low-income children through the Adopt-an-Angel project;
- Donated 750 toys for “Christmas on the Street”; and
- Provided about 80 free portraits through the Family Portrait Event.
“It is good to see generous, warm hearts give to the needs of people we don’t even know,” said Nancy Coburn, director of service learning and volunteer resources in ACU’s Center for Christian Service and Leadership.
McKnight agreed: “There is no better way to show God’s love than to give to others.”