In a season synonymous with gifts, Precision Valley Baptist Church in North Springfield, Vermont provides those in need with the ability to give, but also the opportunity to receive.
A number of years ago a member received a pair of boots he didn’t need, so he gave them away. Others saw that act and followed. Eventually, it grew to become the church’s annual Christmas Giving Shop.
So far this December the shop has provided 252 toys for children in 82 families. PVBC works with local groups and government agencies to gather names of those in need. Most of those families arrive at the church on the first day the shop opens, Dec. 10. Eight others have been assisted since then.
Shopping occurs through a “ticket” system of value for items. Each family receives six tickets per child.
Operated from Dec. 10 through Christmas Eve, the shop provides items for children from birth up to 18 years old. Except for a few items, all of the inventory comes from Precision Valley Church members and two spaghetti fundraiser dinners held during the year.
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“A lot of people come by,” said Peggy Bosley, who organizes the shop and serves the church as fellowship director. “With the prices of everything going up, they need a little help.”
PVBC has around 60 members, and all of them contribute, she said.
That comes from providing toys and other items, but also volunteering as shopping guides and serving refreshments such as hot chocolate, cookies and coffee.
The church is sure to include the biggest gift opportunity. Stockings are handed out containing a Gospel presentation based on the candy cane. Crosses are also given away. And of course, church members interact with guests, learning about them and extending an invitation to Sunday services.
The “shop” is located in a mobile home on the church’s property that otherwise serves to house missionaries. Another area of the church has a pantry, where canned vegetables and non-perishable items are available. Gift cards for Walmart and Dollar General are given, as are gift certificates to a local salon that are donated by the owner, a PVBC member.
If the weather is nice – admittedly, which may not be the case in Vermont in December – free items are also presented on some picnic tables outside.
North Springfield isn’t what you would call a “poor” town, said Bosley, “but we have people who are struggling like in a lot of towns these days.”
The Christmas Gift Shop is only officially open for a couple of weeks in December, but preparation takes place throughout the year. In addition to the spaghetti dinners, Bosley’s 91-year-old mother knitted 25 sets of mittens and hats. Bosley will go shopping on Dec. 26 to take advantage of post-Christmas sales and get ready for 2023.
“People are so appreciative,” said Bosley. “They say they don’t know what they would have done without us. They are very grateful.”
This article originally appeared at Baptist Press.
Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.