‘I Love My Town’ serves children near and far

I Love My Town Christmas, an annual event at Discover Church on the first Sunday of December provides opportunities for the community to donate monies for mission efforts and to purchase needed items for hundreds of foster children.

Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

An advocate for area foster children, Rachel Marshall helped start I Love My Town Christmas at Discover Church six years ago with 60 foster children in need of clothing and other items. That number has risen to 300 for this Sunday’s I Love My Town Christmas, a Discover Church initiative occurring all morning Dec. 5, beginning at 8:30 a.m., that aims to call attention to and meet the needs of displaced children in Macon and surrounding counties. 

Instead of regular worship services, the church “sends out,” according to Pastor Ben Windle, participants to be “salt and light” in the community. Tags featuring needs are picked off various Christmas trees in the worship center and participants shop area stores to purchase items and bring them back to the church, where they will readied for delivery to foster families in time for Christmas. Participants purchase gifts for children anonymously. 

Besides foster children, I Love My Town Christmas meets the needs of about 100 children in the Angel Tree ministry – which reaches children whose parents are incarcerated – as well as raises funds for two mission focuses: Haiti and Honduras. Monies raised for missions provide food, water, shelter, schooling, and more to struggling children and families in these two countries. 

“As a church, we support local foster families and want to be a resource and help provide for the kids in care,” said Julie Adams, wife of Discover Church’s facilities pastor, John Adams. The couple are licensed foster parents. “I Love My Town Christmas provides an opportunity for the community to be in this together.”

Prior to the event, foster families are contacted to learn children’s’ coat size, pants size, shirt size, and shoe size. Plus, the child is able to provide ideas for a toy or special gift. 

“Macon County, Swain Family Resource Center, Jackson County, MPP, and local school principals send names of families in need,” said Adams. “We have a heart for foster children and the foster families who open their homes and hearts to serve them. We want to help support them and walk this journey with them. When a family takes in foster children that also adds quite a bit to their schedule, including doctors’ visits, visitation, school appointments, and so much more. We find that we can help save some time and show support at the same time when we provide Christmas gifts for the children.”

Anyone is welcome to participate in and support I Love My Town Christmas at Discover Church, or they can donate to help with purchasing items listed on tags that do not get chosen during the Dec. 5 event. Children whose tags are not chosen are shopped for by volunteers using donated funds.