For the past two years, Southern Hills church in Tulsa has helped two United Methodist programs come together: Project Noel and Project Transformation.
Southern Hills UMC has been a site church for Project Transformation’s literacy day camps for three summers. The church seeks to stay connected throughout the school year with the families of the elementary-age children enrolled in Project Transformation.
At Thanksgiving, that means the church partners with the Angel Food program to deliver Thanksgiving meals to each family. At Christmas, it means throwing a Christmas party!
That’s where Project Noel comes in, reported Pastor Jeff Jaynes. The church links up with Project Noel to provide toys for the children from camp as well as gifts for parents.
"One of the things we want the kids to know is that Christmas is not just about getting stuff," said Rev. Jaynes. "We want them to have fun stuff for Christmas, but we want them to learn the joy of giving, too."
So the church, using items donated through Project Noel, encourages the children to pick out a special gift for mom, grandma, etc. For many of the kids, selecting those items is one of the highlights of the gift-distribution night.
"We try to do big things for a church our size," said Wendy Reeder, lay leader for Southern Hills UMC and head of its Project Transformation committee. "Project Noel helps us to do that. It helps us bless our Project Transformation families in a special way."
Jaynes noted that one of the church’s goals, as part of its Strategic Planning process, is to add more events to connect Project Transformation families and the church. "Just another way we can show the love of Christ to our neighbors," he said.