SBA gearing up for annual Christmas Gift Shop

The Shelby Baptist Association is accepting donations and scheduling interview appointments for its 2020 Christmas Gift Shop.

“Christmas Gift Shop is a ministry of the Shelby Baptist Association – an association of 68 Southern Baptist churches in and around Shelby County that connect for the purpose of meeting needs in the community and encouraging one another,” Christmas Gift Shop Director Rebekah Parr said. “We actually have several churches that participate in Christmas Gift Shop that are not officially members of our association, and we frequently cooperate with sister churches outside our denomination. The goal of the ministry is to share the hope of the gospel through meeting seasonal needs.”

Families in Shelby County who need help with Christmas may call the SBA at (205) 669-7858 to schedule an appointment to be interviewed.

The deadline to schedule an interview appointment is Wednesday, Oct. 28. Interviews will be conducted Sept. 29-Nov. 3.

“We cooperate with several other churches, agencies and ministries in the county that help with Christmas to encourage people to seek assistance from whoever is closest to their residence,” Parr said. “For example, if someone is in Calera, Columbiana, Wilsonville or Shelby, they can call us first. If someone doesn’t know who to call for their area, we can let them know based on the time they request assistance and the age of the children in their family.”

Each organization has a different deadline and process for enrolling in their program, Parr said.

The 2020 Christmas Gift Shop will run from Nov. 30-Dec. 16. (Contributed)

Families may not seek assistance from more than one organization. If a family is found to be seeking help from multiple places, they could lose all assistance.

“The main change that we have had to make this year is that we are having interviews over the phone,” Parr said. “Families still must complete an application and submit proofs of their identity and need, but then we will have a conversation with them over the phone to determine whether they qualify and to set their appointment to receive gifts for their children in December.”

Parr said many churches have collected clothing, toys and stocking stuffers for children, but with many donors and sponsors currently unable to physically attend church or shop in stores, those interested in supporting the Christmas Gift Shop are encouraged to give money for the items they would normally purchase and donate.

“We are having to shop for many more gifts than usual, and we expect a much higher request for assistance than in the recent past,” she said. “We started receiving calls early in the summer asking about how to get help for Christmas. Many have lost their jobs and have found themselves in very difficult situations. There are so many individuals and families that have never needed help before and do not know what to do.”

Although volunteer opportunities with the Christmas Gift Shop are somewhat limited this year because of social distancing requirements, several openings for volunteers are still open.

Opportunities to serve include: prayer warriors, sharing the gospel, mantle room, toy room stockers, Christmas stocking stuffers, new toys/gifts and money for toys/gifts, children’s clothing sponsors, giving popcorn and cookie tins, Bibles (large print and children’s Bibles most needed), gift wrappers and wrapping paper.

For more information, including levels of giving and how to make a donation, visit Shelbybaptist.org/ministries/christmas-gift-shop.

The Christmas Gift Shop started in 1995 and usually provides Christmas gifts for 250-300 families each year.

The 2020 Christmas Gift Shop will run from Nov. 30-Dec. 16.

This year’s goal is to serve 650 children and teens and 270 families.

Questions should be directed to Christmas Gift Shop Director Rebekah Parr at rebekah@shelbybaptist.org or (205) 669-7858.