Grace Covenant gives parents buying spree
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Guided by personal shoppers, nearly 350 families from the Lake Norman area shopped more than 2,000 square feet of new electronics, clothes and toys during Grace Covenant Church’s first Christmas Joyland Toy Store.
Some of the items cost as little as 25 cents.
“The idea is for families that are struggling during this time of the year to be able to come here and purchase items at a nominal amount,” said Marlin Hershey, an eight-year member of the church. “Our church wanted to satisfy a need in the community and help people give to their children during the holiday season. That is what the Christmas is all about.”
Grace Covenant Church, a 2,700-member congregation that contributes to local, regional and international outreach ministries, is led by senior pastor Farrell Lemings and outreach pastor Michelle Hoverson. To bring the Christmas event to fruition, the church partnered with Lake Norman-area nonprofits.
“As a church, we believe that we have a responsibility to give back,” Lemings said. “ “In the past, we’ve done traditional Christmas giveaways, but this is an opportunity to bring people into the church, interact with them, and share God with them. This has been a home run.”
Since the congregation began planning for this event at the end of 2011, they’ve logged thousands of volunteer hours and received help from more than 300 people that have logged, tagged, categorized and wrapped Christmas items.
“For my family, just like others here, this has been a family affair. We have entire families that are serving, witnessing and giving back. It is obvious that people just get it,” Hershey said.
Katrina Patterson, a mother of three small children and Cornelius resident said, “Being a single parent, I have to budget a lot. Normally these toys are $20 each, and I am able to get them here for less than $4.”
Jeremiah Tinkham, a 12-year old student at Pineville Preparatory Academy, helped assemble bikes for the Dec. 15 event.
“I think that every kid should be given the opportunity to help out other children that don’t get as much during Christmas” Jeremiah said. “I think every child should get something, but should also be able to give something, too.”