calendar December 16, 2008 in Social Ministry

Lutherans provide Christmas for 1,200 children

Local Lutherans contributed more than 1,200 gifts for children served by Lutheran Children and Family Services, food items for food pantries, quilts for Lutheran World Relief and other items in the annual Christmas Ingathering Dec. 7.

Volunteers reload a truck bearing gifts collected in the annual SEPA Christmas Ingathering Dec. 7. [Photo: Rev. Jesse Brown]

In all about 3,000 people will be served by donations to the Ingathering, which totaled over $100,000. About as many people participated in gathering and making gifts and delivering them to drop-off points across the Synod.

In addition to gifts for children, the project collects quilts, layettes, health and sewing kits for Lutheran World Relief (and delivers them to LWR in Baltimore), tool kits for Lutheran Settlement House, backpacks for children in families served by the Liberty Center for Survivors of Torture, personal hygiene kits for people in local institutions, and items for LCFS’ Nurse-Family Partnership for first-time mothers. In addition, food for five local food banks and donations to the Seamen’s Church Institute are collected.

"Ingathering92"For some of these children, this is the only gift they will receive for the holidays," notes Susan Pursch, director of church relations for Liberty Lutheran Services. "In an average year people donate more than $114,000 worth of gits and other items. And we have the same drivers and people involved year after year. It is like the start of the holiday season for the young people and adults who volunteer."

The annual Ingathering program, managed by LCFS and its parent, Liberty Lutheran Services, involves congregations from across the Synod and our social ministry organizations in making or purchasing gifts. Dozens of volunteers then spent a cold Sunday picking up and organizing gifts, distributing food items to five food pantries in the region, and delivering items to Lutheran World Relief. Volunteers from Gloria Dei, Huntingdon Valley, Little Zion, Telford, Immanuel, Philadelphia and Spirit and Truth, Yeadon showed up to unload and reload trucks (and consume 16 large pizzas!).

"Ingathering57Christ, Upper Darby, Christ’s, Oreland, St. John’s, Philadelphia, Zion, Spring City and Little Zion, Telford serve as collection points where Lutherans can drop off their donations prior to the day of the Ingathering.

Funding from the Philadelphia Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans underwrites the cost of truck rentals and other expenses for the project, so all donations go to clients and recipients.