The Age-Old Christmas Stocking with a Brand-New Tradition

SHOP THE AGM at AGM.BELPRES.ORG from Thanksgiving to Dec 31.

I have always loved the decorations and gift-giving that comes with Christmas. As a small child, I loved going through my Christmas stocking first thing in the morning. When I became a parent, our children’s Christmas stockings were a highlight of our morning festivities. And then when I became a grandmother, I continued the tradition at my own home for my seven grandchildren – each with their own custom name-embroidered stocking.

But what goes inside those stockings now is different than what went in them when I was a child and young mother. What’s in there now?  A gift card from the BelPres Alternative Gift Market!

Around Thanksgiving, I provide the opportunity to each of my grandchildren to purchase a $50 gift from the catalog for someone in need. They each select their own, based on their preferences, and tell me what to buy. On Christmas morning, we take turns opening their stockings. When it is their turn, they each pull out the card and tell their cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and me what they purchased, and more importantly, why they selected it.

Sometimes it is a chicken or a goat to produce food or a living for a family in a foreign land. Other times it is a soccer ball so other kids can have a ball to play with (something they can’t imagine living without). Sometimes it is equipment for wells to get clean drinking water, and other times it has gone toward an education so girls in Africa can create better futures (this one from a grandson). The youngest, enamored with starting school a couple years ago, wanted to purchase school supplies and books for children who couldn’t afford their own. Another time it was a wheelchair to help another person get around more easily (perhaps from observing his own grandfather use one.)

I love that they can review the catalog with all the needs, that they make informed decisions based on their interests and opinions, and that they can share their reasons for their choice with the rest of the family. In the midst of the “getting,” we are reminded of the importance of “giving” too.

For me, the BelPres Alternative Gift Catalog is more than a donation during the holidays, and it is more than a personal contribution to the less fortunate. For me, it is one of my favorite ways to pass on a lesson of love to my grandchildren about Christian giving and sharing, along with the age-old Christmas stocking tradition.




Angel Tree Ministry

By Elizabeth Hayford, Director of Missions Administration

The Angel Tree ministry reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ.  This year, our Angel Tree volunteers here at BelPres have worked tirelessly to contact, prepare and deliver gifts to more than 100 children in the Bellevue and Tacoma areas and also to provide gift cards to almost 50 teenagers in Idaho. This dedicated team spends to fall in preparation and then in organization mode to make sure every child and caregiver receives a gift or gift card when they are all delivered starting December 13. And these special elves don’t just deliver Christmas gifts and cards; they bring the gift of Jesus Christ to each home, too. These volunteers include an age-appropriate Bible and share stories of Jesus with the children when they personally deliver to each home.

BelPres has been blessed in the last couple of years to partner with University Place Presbyterian Church south of Tacoma to help deliver to the families in that area.  It is a joy to share in ministry with our friends in Pierce County.

Here is a quote from an Angel Tree child that shows what these gifts mean:

“I was too young to actually remember my dad. But those Angel Tree presents – I don’t know how to describe it – they made me feel like I was important. I was really happy I got something from him, and to know that he’s OK.”– Akeylah, Angel Tree child

Thank you to this team of volunteers who share the joy and love of Jesus Christ at Christmas time.

Angel tree volunteers, Alice Fong and Jay Baranowski, sort, move and organize the gifts for delivery to Angel Tree children.
Angel tree volunteers, Alice Fong and Jay Baranowski, sort, move and organize the gifts for delivery to Angel Tree children.

If you gave to Angel Tree this year, THANK YOU!  If you want to get involved with this ministry at BelPres next year, contact GetConnected.