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Christmas Benevolence FAQs

Christmas Benevolence 
Living Our Faith

Frequently Asked Questions

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. (Mark 25:35-36, 40)

What is Christmas Benevolence and what is its mission?
Christmas Benevolence is one of the oldest mission traditions of Second Church. It is a church-wide project sponsored by the Deacons. Christmas Benevolence carries the Good News in the form of practical help to families in our community in need of assistance. It provides Bibles, food, clothing, personal items and gifts. It brings Christian love, encouragement and support to people identified by social service agencies.

When and how did it begin?
Christmas Benevolence started over 35 years ago when three women of Second Presbyterian Church who, during a particularly brutal winter, heard about some inner-city children who were not able to go to school because they didn’t have any warm clothing. The three women collected coats, hats, mittens, scarves, and boots for those youngsters. They also gave each child a wrapped present – a toy or a book or other non-essential – because they believed everyone should receive a special gift at Christmastime. They had no idea that their simple idea would become what we know today as Christmas Benevolence.

How many families and people are impacted?
Each year the church serves approximately 780 individuals in more than 150 families. We provide food, clothing and personal items.

Christmas Benevolence also impacts those who serve. It gives members of our congregation an opportunity for living their faith and seeing firsthand the impact it has on our neighbors. Delivery day and clothe shopping brings those who want to live their faith in direct contact with our neighbors in need.

How are the families selected?
Social workers are given criteria for whom to select, primarily families with children and with financial and physical needs are chosen.

How can people participate?
People can volunteer their time during the month of December and/or provide financial support. Both online giving and volunteer opportunities can be found at the following links: and Members can also sign up in-person in McFarland Hall on Sunday mornings in November.

How many volunteers are needed?
In 2017, organizers project there will be approximately 650 volunteer slots available throughout the month of December. We have set an inspiring new goal of attracting over 50 first-time volunteers this yer. Some volunteer opportunities, like delivery day drivers, allow entire families to sign up and serve together.

What do volunteers do?
With approximately 800 volunteer slots, there is literally a volunteer opportunity for everyone. Although some volunteer opportunities require some heavy lifting and physical endurance; many entail general set up, organizing food/clothing items, wrapping gifts, and working directly with families.

November Opportunity
Necessities Wrapping – Place items (underwear, socks and sweatshirts) in decorative bags and seal with a
ribbon. Can be completed while sitting.

December Opportunities
Necessities Sorting – Previously wrapped necessity items are sorted by family groups. This opportunity
requires walking and light lifting.
Box Transfer – Help move boxes from the storage shed into the multi-purpose room on set-up day
Clothing Set-up – Help set up the multi-purpose room to resemble a used clothing store
Clothing Selection – Work one-on-one with client families to help select outfits from racks and tables of used
clothing in the multi-purpose room. Knowledge of Spanish helpful on Saturday, December 9th.
Advent Party
Craft Assistance – Host a craft table for children. Great for families with older children. Ability to speak
Spanish is helpful but not required.
Snack Assistance – Host a snack table for children. Great for families with older children. Ability to speak
Spanish helpful but not required.
Infant and Toddler Caregiver – Care for infants and children while their parents shop for clothing. Must
be age 16 or older. Ability to speak Spanish helpful but not required.
Party Buddy – Accompany older children at the party while their parents shop for clothing. Must be age
16 or older. Ability to speak Spanish helpful but not required.
Party Cleanup – Cleanup after the party.
Gift and Children’s Clothing Wrapping – Wrap new gifts for adults and children, as well as wrap clothe-achild
Box Packing – Move items from clothing selection and wrapping areas and pack boxes
Box Moving - Move and reorganize family boxes.
Clothing Tear-Down – Bag remaining clothing items to send to Goodwill.
Food Unloading from Trucks – Move cases of food from trucks to the Multi-Purpose Room, then open the
cases. * Bring coats, gloves, and utility knife (if you have one).
Food Selection Shopper – Select food for families using pre-printed lists in the multi- purpose room
“grocery store”. Great for families! *This is limited to 24 people over the age of 12 (per shift). Children
under 12 do not count toward the 24 total shoppers, but are welcome when accompanied by an adult.

Food Selection Bagger – Bag groceries and organize by family in the multi-purpose “grocery store”. *This
is limited to 16 adults (per shift), but children are welcome to work with their parents. Baggers must be able to lift full bags of groceries.

Food Selection Transporter – Transport bags of groceries from multi-purpose room “grocery store” to
various designated areas. *This is limited to 16 adults and teens (per shift); children under to age of 12
are not permitted. Transporters must be able to lift full bags of groceries and spend the evening

Food Selection Box Breaker – Help keep all items on display in the multi-purpose room “grocery store”
and break down boxes *This is limited to 4 adults (per shift); children 18 and under are not permitted.
Christmas Card Artists – The children of Second make a Christmas card for every family we serve
Delivery Day Freezer Unloading – Move hams from off-site location to the church.
Delivery Day Drivers – Drive a carload of boxes and bags to a family’s home and interact as you present
the items for their Christmas. Great for families!
Delivery Day Loaders – Help load cars with boxes and bags

When and how do I sign up for volunteering?
Beginning on Sunda,y November 12 thru December 3, the Christmas Benevolence volunteer display will be set up in McFarland Hall between 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Deacons will be available to answer your questions and help you register as a volunteer.

You can learn more at where you will find a helpful link to Sign-Up Genius, the church’s online volunteer sign-up portal. You can also sign up sign up in person in McFarland Hall on Sunday mornings in November through December 3rd.

What can I expect when I volunteer?
Those who have volunteered and served throughout the years have received in return the joy of knowing that they have been, for a little while, the hands and feet of Christ.

Volunteering is fun for individuals and families! You will meet an army of engaged, friendly and faithful people of all ages. Children can help with their parents and make Christmas cards. Teens can also help with many of the activities.

Volunteering will impact your life and your family. There are hundreds of personal stories from people just like you who “light up” or get very reflective when sharing about their positive experiences.

What is the goal for financial support?
Christmas Benevolence’s annual fundraising goal is $62,000. This outstanding annual fundraising tradition directly pays for food, clothing, coats, bedding, and other project supplies. It maintains the excellence and impact of Christmas Benevolence. Without financial support from the members of Second Presbyterian Church, Christmas Benevolence can’t exist.

What are “tags” and what do I do with them?
Tags represent gift items that can be purchased for our Christmas Benevolence families by members of the congregation. The gifts range from clothing to toys to kitchen items to hams. The tags are available at the sign-up table in McFarland Hall. Each tag represents one gift item and includes specific instructions that will guide the shopping process. For example, the tag might say something such as a “toy for a 5 year old boy” or “a size 6 pair of pants for a young girl.” When you take a tag, you will purchase the item and return it to the church unwrapped. The gift will later be wrapped by members of the church. The tags and the purchased gift should be returned to the church by Sunday December 3. NOTE: When purchasing children's clothing items, please make sure to purchase the following to form a complete outfit:  a sweater or sweatshirt, a pair of pants, and a long sleeved t-shirt.

Is childcare available for volunteers?
Yes, parents must register their child at the church's web page at

What do I call the individuals and families that we help?
They are our neighbors and friends. Someday they may help us, just as you have helped them. Internally, we refer to them as Christmas Benevolence families.

How can I stay up-to-date about the latest Christmas Benevolence news and happenings?