ROCHESTER HILLS — Twenty-six years ago, Patti Jacques recognized a need to provide Christmas for children in Detroit and Pontiac.
“We started this as a small thing,” said Jacques, of Rochester Hills. “We began in 1988 in Troy and worked with 188 kids. We wanted to make a difference in children’s lives.”
This year, Gifts for All God’s Children will deliver coats, warm clothing and toys to 3,000 children. “We never dreamed what would happen,” Jacques said.
Two weeks before Christmas, the basement of Crown of Life Church in Rochester Hills is filled with racks of clothing and packed with shelves of books and toys. The organization works with the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, Power Company Kids Club in Pontiac and numerous other organizations.
Each child receives five or six gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning — which may be an outfit, toys, hats, gloves, socks, underwear, coats, pajamas or toiletries, along with a Bible.
“We also work with about a half dozen other churches in the area,” Jacques said.
Carolyn Roth, who has been involved with Gifts for All God’s Children for five years, organizes a party at East Bethlehem Church of Detroit for 162 children and their parents.
“It is special,” Roth said. “We have a two-hour party with face painting, balloons, crafts, decorating Christmas cookies and a puppet show before they get the gifts.”
The goal is to provide Christmas and develop a relationship with the children, encouraging them to join the church.
“We have one family of kids who walk to the church every Sunday,” Roth said. “Even in the winter. This year, they will be involved in the puppet show.”
Roth said that before the Gifts for All God’s Children efforts, the church had no children in membership. “Our Sunday school started after the program,” she said.
Gifts for All God’s Children works year-round to provide for children in need, Jacques said, organizing gifts for Valentine’s Day and Easter, and back-to-school events. Approximately 1,000 volunteers aim to make a difference in the lives of children.
“We are looking for our own facility,” Jacques said. “We still have a lot to do.”
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