The Christmas Store
By Lauren Musgrave
A Long Time Ago
In 1989, in Tillie Burgin’s office at Mission Arlington, the ministry of the Christmas Store started just like every other ministry: a person had a need. In previous years, the requests for assistance through Mission Arlington increased significantly in January of every year. Families were taking rent and utilities monies and trying to provide “Christmas” for their children.
It Started Small
Therefore, in 1989, in the small offices of Mission Arlington, a toy collection began. Bible Study leaders were able to come to Tillie’s office and pick out toys for their families, and deliver grocery sacks full of toys to their apartment Bible Studies. Families were encouraged to pay their rent, pay their utilities and let Mission Arlington help with the “extras” of toys, trees and turkey.
Why We Got Involved
Most of the families assisted through the Christmas Store have been working people who simply could not absorb the added expenses of the holiday season. These families were able to maintain places to live, cars to drive and food on the table if there were no crisis in their lives-such as cars breaking down, illness, etc., any additional and unplanned expenses. The Christmas Season presented additional expenses.
More Than We Ever Expected
As with all of the ministries and tools the Lord has started through Mission Arlington, this simple act of caring for a few families during their time of need, led to far more than we could have imagined or planned. The Arlington community began to support the concept of helping people through the Christmas Season in a huge way. The number of people assisted with gifts and toys increased by hundreds every year. By 1995, over 8,000 people were assisted with gifts, food and trees.
The Main Thing
Every family that receives gifts hears the Gospel story in their language before they go to the Christmas Store. As people apply to go to the Christmas Store, bringing their proof of residency and their children’s birth certificates or school records, Mission Arlington workers have an opportunity to talk with every family and invite them to a Bible Study near where they live.
How It Works
Today, this free Christmas Store is open for approximately 12 days in mid December every year. The store hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The store is set up like many traditional “stores.” Shelves and tables are used to hold the gifts and divide those gifts by age groups. It is staffed by churches, schools, families and individuals from the community who have donated toys, worked, planned and prayed for the people who will come to the Store.
Volunteers tasks include being a shopper helper, helping adults to find gifts for their kids, stockers, keeping toys and other gifts placed in the store, child care, providing a safe place for parents to leave their children when they shop - and so much more.
If you would like to be involved in Mission Arlington’s Christmas Store, or to learn more about how to host your own, give Mission Arlington a call at 817-277-6620.