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Local Ministries Brighten Kids' Christmas

A lot of cooperation benefits a lot of children.

A cooperative ministry of churches, businesses and individuals in the Northlake, Embry Hills and Tucker area donated nearly 800 toys to Good Neighbor Christmas, a toy shop that allowed low-income parents to buy gifts for their children at greatly reduced prices. The event was held Dec. 8 and 9 at Open Table Community Church in Chamblee.

Co-sponsored by FCS Urban Ministries, Refugee Beads and NETWorks, the store drew crowds of parents who selected items from about 1000 donated new toys, paid for their purchases at roughly 50% off retail price, then brought their selections to a free gift-wrapping station.

Thirty-seven families responded, shopping for more than 100 children. In addition, volunteers from the Northlake Rotary Club provided childcare and ran a shuttle service between the NETWorks building in Tucker and the Christmas store in Chamblee.

Bob Lupton, founder of FCS Urban Ministries, believes it is better to give parents an opportunity to pick and purchase gifts for their children than to give parents free toys selected by donors.

While churches in the cooperative have previously held Christmas toy drives for less fortunate families, the “Pride for Parents” Good Neighbor Christmas offered a new approach that delighted the children while preserving the pride and dignity of their parents.

"(We are) proud to co-sponsor Good Neighbor Christmas because of the type of interaction that it encourages with neighbors across the income spectrum,” said Holly Duncan, ministry leader of Northlake Church of Christ and president of NETWorks.

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