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The Gift of Giving: Operation Joy

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Each year leading up to Christmas, Heroes Gate (Woodland’s children’s ministry) decorates Christmas trees with mittens, teddy bears and red circle ornaments. Though the trees are beautiful, they serve a much greater purpose than just spreading holiday cheer. Each ornament represents a gift for a child in need. Recipients include WH attendees, The Refuge, The LIFT, Close to My Heart (preschool), Voice in the Wilderness, and other ministries.

Over the past 15 years, Woodland has had the privilege and joy of giving thousands of gifts! This year alone, we’ve provided over 300 presents including gift cards for groceries. The families receiving the gifts are deeply moved. Mary Anderson, WH Care Pastor and past distributor of gifts, said, “We see lots of happy tears and get lots of big thank you hugs. It is the most fun we have all year, being able to give joy to someone else’s family.” Everyone who participates in Operation Joy is mutually blessed.

“Operation Joy is a great way for us to serve as a family and to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.”— Traci Stobbe

Traci has been volunteering behind the scenes with Operation Joy for several years now. Among other things, she helps make ornaments and sort gifts. When her kids were younger, they loved picking out ornaments for kids close to their age and then shopping for them.

“Helping families to be able to afford gifts for their child through Operation Joy is a blessing and an honor.” —BJ Schaffhausen

BJ participates in Operation Joy to help teach his children about the gift of giving. As a family, they enjoy showing others that they are loved and cared for on Christmas. They want to make a difference in whatever way they can!

“I enjoy being part of Operation Joy because it’s what this season is supposed to be about: giving.” — Dannette Paulson

Dannette has been an elementary coach in Heroes Gate for many years. Each year she takes an ornament from the tree and brings a gift back to serve those in need.

Thank you to all who participated in Operation Joy this year! What a wonderful opportunity to share God’s love in practical ways this Christmas season!

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"I was incredibly blessed by everyone who came out to the clean-up event to serve neighborhood seniors. It literally brought me to tears knowing that there are amazing people out there restoring my hope in what it means to love and serve each other."

– Merrick Community Services staff member