Christmas with Dignity provides gifts for needy

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 14, 2007

Volunteers at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church did not open the doors to the annual Christmas with Dignity until 10 a.m., but that didn’t stop people from lining up at the church doors long before then and by 9 a.m.— an hour before the event began— there was a line that extended a third of the way down the block.

In the line were people who would find donated toys and other gifts they could take home and wrap for family members, a little help with the holidays for those in need.

“This is a really good program for people who don’t have any money,” Jennifer Dalton said as she waited in line. “And this year is a lot better than the last time I was here, year before last. I was here from 4 a.m. until noon, standing in line in the cold.”

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She planned to pick up presents for six kids, aged 2-19.

As Dalton and others waited outside, volunteers inside were getting tables of unwrapped items ready.

Don Bauer was with a group of parishioners who came from All Saints Lutheran Church in Columbus, bringing a truckload of donated items. All Saints and fellow Christians from Resurrection Lutheran Church in Hilliard co-sponsor the event each year with the local church. He said while he wants those in need to have a Merry Christmas, he is also keen that they come to know the real meaning of the holiday.

“It’s fun. And while it’s good to have that material gift I do want them to think about what the season is all about, Jesus. And if a material gift helps spread the gospel, we’re happy,” Bauer said.

St. Paul’s pastor, the Rev. Mike Poole, said 1,300 people pre-registered this year. The pre-registration was instituted to make the process simpler and eliminate people standing in long lines for hours in anticipation of the event. Last year some people began lining up long before midnight the evening before the giveaway and waited all night in the cold.

While the participants selected gifts, a group of Ironton High School music students played Christmas songs and other volunteers offered refreshments. Still others offered gift-wrapping.