On the evening of Dec. 15, participating parents were asked what the 2008 Jubilee Christmas meant to them and their families. Their responses captured the heart and soul of the mission for this countywide holiday assistance program.

“It is the true meaning of giving,” said one parent, adding, “for people you don’t know or have never met to give without wanting something in return. That does not happen very often.”

Another shared, “My kids and I have had a bad year. I am only working PRN (as needed) so there is very little money to buy much so it (Jubilee Christmas) will brighten my kids’ eyes on Christmas. I know it has mine. Thank you.”

Many quotes contained, “laid off my full-time work,” or “on disability and a fixed income” or “without Jubilee Christmas there would have been no Christmas (gifts) this year.”

Jubilee Christmas is directed by Connections, a program of Daviess County Partnership. Patterned after a long running program of the Lafayette Urban Ministries, Jubilee Christmas was first introduced here in 2007 by Jodi Parsons because of its unique opportunity to nurture a partnership between churches and community.

Financial donations came from individuals, churches, businesses and grants from the Daviess County Community Foundation, REMC, Regional Service Council and Wal-Mart. The collaborative efforts of program leaders, 17 churches, 21 businesses and clubs and more than 400 volunteers culminated in the second annual Jubilee Christmas event.

Area churches welcomed 204 parents into a cheerful atmosphere of Christian hospitality, dignity and Christmas joy. Jubilee Christmas Gift Shops in each church displayed hundreds of toys and stocking stuffers donated by church members and the community. Parents personally selected three gifts plus stocking stuffers for each of their children. Listening to Christmas music the volunteers, ministers and parents helped wrap gifts and shared refreshments baked by the Homemakers Clubs and Girl Scouts.

Nearly 1,500 toys ended up under family Christmas trees for 476 children. Additionally, the Jubilee Christmas program provided a gift basket for each family with laundry detergent, shampoo, toiletries, toothbrushes and toothpaste, paper products and household cleaners. Some items were collected by Griffith and North elementaries student members of the “Just Say No” Club and the Washington Junior High School Beta Club. Parents also received a grocery certificate to be redeemed at IGA to help purchase their family Christmas meal.

The growing magnitude of community support for the 2008 Jubilee Christmas included the “site” and “partner” hosting congregations of Antioch Christian, Bethel United Methodist North, Bethany Christian, Beulah AME, Central Christian, Christ United Methodist, Church of Christ, Church on the Way, First Christian, Free Methodist, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Harvest Community, New Hope Christian, Our Lady of Hope, Providence Mennonite, Southwind Wesleyan and Westminster Presbyterian churches.

Volunteer participants praise the structure of Jubilee Christmas because it offers an opportunity to be “in relationship” with parents who cannot at this time provide gifts for the children they love. As one church hostess, Ellen McKittrick, commented, “It was a blessing to see the excitement and hope on the faces of these parents when Jubilee Christmas helped, even if just for an evening, to lighten the burden of their financial worries. Wanting to be the heroes to their children on Christmas morning is very real.”

Once again caring people around Daviess County celebrated a genuine interconnectedness by providing a measure of joy for so many.

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