Christmas Toy Store Gives Back Hope and joy for 714 Children, 240 Families and Eight new Christ-followers

Annie Crowder usually buys Christmas presents at the Dollar Store – if she buys them at all. The disabled grandmother to 20, four of whom live with her, has a hard time providing basic necessities, much less frivolities like dolls or bikes.

But this year was different.

Thanks to the generosity of Hope Community Church members, Crowder was able to “shop” for her young charges and place beautifully wrapped toys and games beneath her tree.

“I was like a little kid,” she says of Hope’s first ever Christmas Toy Store. “When I first walked in, I was so surprised! Everything was beautiful. It’s an awesome feeling to know my grandchildren are getting presents from their grandmother.”

As an added benefit, Crowder, who relies on food stamps to provide meals for her family, visited the food pantry after finishing her Christmas shopping. “That was a huge surprise,” she said. “My assistance helps, but it doesn’t go far.”

The Christmas Toy Store, spearheaded by Local Hope director Carrie Miranda, began with a desire to help bring joy and hope to the less fortunate in our community.

“Christmas is about hope, joy and love,” says Miranda. “And our congregation really stepped up to extend those to the people of our community.
Beginning early December, Hope attendees were asked to donate new, unwrapped toys or gifts. Thousands of donations made it to the store, the first in in Hope’s nearly 25-year history. One small group provided hundreds of toys – including 25 bicycles – to the initiative. For three days, the Toy Store welcomed guests, handing out presents, wrapping gifts and even praying with them as we spread a message of Christ’s love for all people.
Christmas Toy Store 2016

The numbers are staggering – 240 families, 714 children and eight new Christ-followers.

“It was a bit overwhelming really,” says Miranda. “We had enough toys for everyone and what we didn’t hand out we sent to Kinston for families who lost everything during Hurricane Matthew.

For her part, Crowder is looking forward to visiting Hope again.

“My sister had told me things she heard about the church, but we’d never seen it for ourselves. Now that I’ve been here and had such a positive experience, I’m definitely going to come back.”
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Hope Community Church


Written by Shannon Hartsoe. Photos by Dave Shay Photography 

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