Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Christmas season inspires service

Students have opportunities to reach out to the Lynchburg community through Liberty, TRBC, World Help

Throughout the year, students at Liberty University are encouraged to be active in serving the community and reaching out to those in need, according to Liberty’s Christian/Community Service Web page, and there are many opportunities in the coming Christmas season to show the community the love of Christ.

One of Liberty’s opportunities to serve was found in the care package drive for members of the military. According to Ashley Eskridge, the military outreach coordinator at the office of Military Affairs, the package drive was a new event this year.

“We had one night empty during Military Emphasis Week,” Eskridge said. “It was nice to have a low-key night.”

Students had the opportunity to drop by one of the classrooms in DeMoss Hall on the night of Nov. 8 and donate various items that would later be packaged and sent overseas. According to Eskridge, when they send the boxes, each member of the military that receives a package will receive a box of food items as well as a box of hygiene items.

The way that soldiers receive these boxes is through family, friends and students at Liberty who give the soldiers’ contact information to the office of Military Affairs. According to Eskridge, there are more than 25,000 military members who make up the Liberty University Online population, and they can send their own information if they wish to get a package.

Information can be sent to the office at any time, but it usually picks up around the holidays.

As Christmas draws closer, other opportunities are open to students and the community through organizations such as Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) and World Help.

According to Tim Gransdstaff, missions and outreach pastor at TRBC, there are multiple opportunities to be involved this year through the church’s ministry Christmas Cares, calling it the “biggest church-wide effort” for Christmas outreach.

One part of this ministry is Christ Cares in the Community, which involves more than 100 outreach events. These events include opportunities such as delivering food baskets to the fire department, police department and local schools.

“We want to go in and say thanks for what you do to serve the community,” Grandstaff said.

Another aspect of Christmas outreach through TRBC involves collecting food and gifts for children who are infants up to 12 years old. The collection will go on until Dec. 14, when 350 children and their parents will attend a Christmas party at TRBC.

According to Grandstaff, an area of Main Street, the main lobby area at TRBC, will be decorated like a winter wonderland. In the winter wonderland, families can participate in the Christmas spirit with activities such as getting a picture with Santa and visiting Mrs. Claus’ sweetshop for cookies and hot chocolate.

For more information and a list of other activities that TRBC is hosting, visit christmascares.org.

When it comes to a twist on holiday traditions, World Help is the place to look. According to Allyn Lyttle, director of communication at World Help, the organization’s outreach events are mostly online-driven, and one of the events that focuses on Christmastime is Gifts of Hope.

“We want to explain the value of voice and doing your part,” Lyttle said.

Gifts of Hope is a program that allows participants to make purchases for those in impoverished countries in the name of a family member or friend. Gifts range from farm animals and seeds to homes and medical supplies.

According to Lyttle, these gifts can make an impact, because they are something different from a regular Christmas gift, and they help those in need.

For more information about Gifts of Hope and to view a gift catalog, visit worldhelp.net/gifts-hope-catalog.

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