Central’s Christmas Store Offers the Gift of Giving

By Cathy Brown
 Ewing, New Jersey (December 18, 2013)— A local church in Ewing looked like a toy warehouse having a blowout sale on Sunday, December 15. The main difference was all invited shoppers had been identified as having great financial need this season.  Over 100 families participated from 9 local social service agencies including Habitat for Humanity, HomeFront, Trenton Family Preservation House, ChoiceOne, Isles, UIH, Doorway to Hope, Better Community Housing of Trenton and Greater Trenton BHC.  Several families in need also came from 3 area churches.  Guests were able to purchase new Christmas gifts for their children at deeply discounted prices (ranging from $1- $5). 
Central: A Christ-Centered Church, has hosted this event for 3 years. Toni Campbell, the primary event coordinator, states: “The store was conceived to show God’s love to families who are struggling financially during this season.  Although the prices are very low, parents are empowered to shop for and purchase their own choice of gifts for their children, providing great joy and dignity – it is not just a hand-out.  As of last year, we added a Santa’s workshop where children can shop free of charge for their parents and siblings, and a photo area where professional photographers donate their time to take family portraits.” 
Between the 200 donated gifts and donated funds used to purchase additional gifts, the church estimated that the value of the gifts available exceeded $8,000. All of the $1,150 cash proceeds from the store are being donated to the Salvation Army in Trenton – and in this way shoppers are also giving back to their community and perhaps helping those with even deeper needs. Event Volunteer Coordinator, Heather Stoffel, said that although bad weather on Saturday – the day the event was originally scheduled – caused them to move the store to Sunday, they still had a terrific volunteer turnout.  "We opened the Store early to more shoppers on Friday evening, closed for the storm on Saturday, and then opened again on Sunday. Despite moving the date for the main portion of the Store, we were still able to have 200 volunteers participate. Enabling people to use their gifts and time to help others is as rewarding to me as watching people find just the right gift for their kids. Our church’s heart is to show this community the love of God – that kind of volunteer turnout is evidence of that!"
Central: A Christ-Centered Church offers services that feature diverse worship elements and a Biblically-based, culturally relevant message to challenge and encourage people from all walks of life. They hold a modern worship service Saturday evenings at 6:00pm in their Fellowship Mall, two modern worship services each Sunday at 9:30am and 11:00am in their main worship center, a classic worship service at 9:30am in Allen Hall, and an Unplugged service Sundays at 11:00am in Central Hall. All five services are located at 2015 Pennington Road in Ewing (609-882-0337).