On Thursday, October 29, five people from the Saratoga United Methodist Church in Lyon County (Madisonville District) delivered a vanload of newly purchased personal and gift items to Red Bird Mission for its annual Christmas Assistance Program.
Items were provided for the Mission's Christmas shop by the people of Saratoga, Trinity, Fairview (Lyon County), Kuttawa, Rosebud, and Providence Rural United Methodist churches.
This was the third year that Saratoga and Trinity's pastor, Steve McVay, and people from area UMCs have made this trek and had the opportunity to witness firsthand the ministries of Red Bird Mission and other agencies of the Red Bird Missionary Conference. In previous years, members of Trinity and Fairview have delivered the items. In each case, the yearly round trip of close to 700 miles has been a happy and fulfilling journey, participants report.
Stacia Carwell, Family Ministries Coordinator for the Mission, states that in 2008 over 950 children were served by Christmas Assistance, family boxes, "shoeboxes," and other donation programs at Red Bird School. To date this year, approximately 360 children living below the poverty line have qualified for Christmas Assistance ministry.
The Christmas Assistance Program dates back to the beginning years of Red Bird Mission. Current methods of screening and distribution of Christmas items have been used since 1989.
Throughout the year at the Mission, about fifteen different volunteers are involved in sorting of items and assembling the Christmas boxes. These boxes, once filled, will be distributed to low-income families in Bell, Clay, and Leslie Counties. Families in neighboring counties where the need is identified by pastors of the Red Bird Missionary Conference will also receive packages. A list of items needed can be obtained online by visiting the Mission's website at www.rbmission.org.
Carwell emphasizes that the hoped-for goal of this and other programs of the Mission and Conference is to help families become more self-sufficient.
Reverend McVay, who also serves as Madisonville District Mission Team Leader, hopes that with more and more people from the Kentucky Conference visiting the Mission and other RBM Conference agencies, the partnership between the two conferences will be strengthened, and that this partnership and the ministry opportunities it presents may be more fully lived into.
Eunice Beavers, Communications Coordinator, Trinity and Saratoga United Methodist Churches
A volunteer packing a Christmas box (photo courtesy of Red Bird Mission)