Empowering the heroes of Christmas
Article and photos by Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Josh Pruitt, Ivywild Visuals
This holiday season, Journey Church in Castle Pines empowered parents and guardians to be the true heroes of Christmas. Douglas County and local community families in a difficult situation this season were invited to shop the Christmas Store for their children’s gifts. Items valued at $25 or more were sold at a reduced rate of $5 each. The Christmas store adopted the motto of “providing a hand up to families rather than a handout.” The church has found this approach provides dignity with help for families during what for some can be a hard time of the year.
Journey Church founded the Christmas Store in 2012 when they hosted the inaugural event at Bishop Elementary School in Englewood, Colorado. The store was developed with the specific purpose of serving the immediate needs of families in that community. The impact of the Christmas Store was incredibly powerful and dozens of families were blessed by it.
The Christmas Store has grown over the years, connecting with additional church pastors, school administrators and business professionals. Journey Church has expanded the Christmas Store to multiple locations. These partnerships have helped Journey Church orchestrate every aspect of the event. They provide toys, outerwear other store merchandise, as well as, communicate and share the yearly event with families in need of a little help. Journey Church Pastor Cory Bragg said he believes in empowering parents and guardians and is thrilled every year for the support the Christmas Store receives from local schools, businesses and volunteers.
Castle Pines resident and store volunteer Anna Spitzer said that the Christmas Store is one of their family’s favorite volunteer experiences of the year. She shared that the opportunity allows them to shop for gifts as a family to donate to the store. Then they get to greet the families and help them shop and wrap their gifts before they leave.
Spitzer said it is heartwarming to see the parents’ eyes light up in excitement when they see the toy tables – anticipating the joy their children will have on Christmas Day with their gifts. Spitzer commented that the event is a wonderful way to serve the community with the Journey Church family.
With the help of several Douglas County partnerships, Journey Church served more than 200 families this year providing 650 gifts for children from babies to 18-year-olds.