Many CFHS students assist Christmas in Walnut

IMG_4836 walnut1By: Annebeth Ahrenholz

Many people, including CFHS students, volunteered on Saturday, Dec. 13, and helped show the true meaning of Christmas: giving. At Christmas in Walnut, for the fifth year in a row, Orchard Hill partnered with the boys and girls club and Harvest Vineyard Church in order to offer extremely discounted gifts to low-income families. The mission of this event is to develop community and capacity, so the Cedar Valley might become a different kind of community moving forward. Volunteers of Christmas in Walnut wanted to give those who shop in the store an opportunity to volunteer throughout the day if they would like so they feel more like they are giving back. The gifts sold at the event were around $2 to $5, normally 75 percent off of retail price. The organizers do it that way so the parents buying the gifts can still have the satisfaction of paying for the gifts they are buying.

While the parents are busy in the Christmas in Walnut Store, they have the opportunity to send their children up to do crafts with volunteers. This year at the craft workshop upstairs, 195 children made gifts and experienced the joy of giving them to their family members. At one moment, a mother of a child began to cry as she saw the photo craft gift this year. It had her child’s face imprinted on a glass vase with the glow of a candle inside.

There are many stories of how students and volunteers gave back throughout the day at Christmas in Walnut. One way was that Orchard Hill Kids gave $960 that purchased 64 of the Action Bibles given to families at the Christmas Store.

The six-person prayer team prayed for many of  the shoppers, including a woman who recently moved here to support her brother who is testifying in a murder trial, a woman who recently lost her job and a person who recently separated from her marriage.

Senior Maria Garcia is a member of the prayer team and said, “Something that was super-influential in spreading God’s love and truth is being a prayer warrior. Not everyone feels comfortable praying for themselves, especially if they don’t feel connected to God … sending up prayers for someone is a huge way to support them in their walk with Christ.”

A total of 2,333 gifts were donated to this year’s store. “I watched so many families help their little ones deposit toys they brought to the big wrapped box at church. People generously gave finances to help fund the event yesterday. Christmas in Walnut is witness to so many cheerful, sacrificial givers,” the coordinator of Christmas in Walnut, Laura Hoy, posted on her blog Sunday after the event.

Overall, the day was very eventful with 345 volunteers who gave time and talents to the day. “This effort could not be done without the outstanding team leaders and volunteers who own their part in the day. Amazing to see that in acton,” Hoy said.

Many lives were touched and hearts were made happy on last Saturday at Christmas in Walnut. Volunteers and a lot of CFHS students got to truly experience the gift of giving, in this giving holiday season.

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