Christmas Eve Project 2019
The Christmas Eve Project Reimagined
By: Grace Personett
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Live Oak Christian church is a community who truly loves God, loves people, and brings the two together. Because of that, finding a way to love their neighbors during the Christmas season was easy. Many of you have probably heard of the Christmas Eve Project. It’s been a big part of Live Oak for over a decade now, though, it may have had some different names over the years.
It all started with an idea: How can the Live Oak community show love and appreciation to those working on Christmas Eve? The goal of the Christmas Project was to provide gift baskets for firehouses, hospitals, and police stations. In 2008, they started small with only a few organizations, making sure to personally deliver all of the gifts. It turned out to be a huge success. Not only did hundreds of people get to feel seen and loved on Christmas, but Live Oak members got to experience the joy of giving back to the community. The response was overwhelmingly positive and from there, the Christmas Eve Project became a holiday staple.
Each year that followed, the Christmas Eve Project continued to grow. With members from Hilton Head to Jasper County, the reach broadened. The list of companies and organizations that they wanted to show care for during the holidays became longer and longer, and Live Oak members showed up for their neighbors each Christmas, without fail. They would deliver gift boxes and baskets to the larger companies, and personally hand out individual gift bags to those who would allow it. It was an amazing way to make personal connections within the community.
However, as this year rolled around, things were going to look quite different. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was no longer possible to walk into hospitals or nursing homes. With this in mind, our team had to reimagine this year’s Christmas Eve Project to meet the needs of our community and safety guidelines. All Live Oak members are still encouraged to come together to assemble goodie bags and baskets, but not until January! The gifts will be delayed a little. Thanks 2020!
In January, we will be working with Officer José Martinez to spread some love in Shady Glen. In order to meet the needs of our next door neighbors, we will be making hygiene bags. Stay tuned for updates to this project! Thank you to all that have already donated. We are still in need of some items, so we are asking that you would consider purchasing some items off of the Christmas Eve Project gift registry at https://www.amazon.com/registries/custom/GOXA1SXBZD13/guest-view.
When asked what the heart of the Christmas Eve project looked like, Christy Long responded, “Our goal is just to love on those people who may feel overlooked on Christmas. We aren’t looking for anything in return. We just want them to feel loved, appreciated, and recognized.” Jamie Haight added, “It all comes down to this: We are called to love our neighbors. Our neighbors are Shady Glen. We’ve got to start loving the people in our backyard.” Judy Frost reaffirmed this, saying, “We should not only love our neighbors, but bless them too. When we bought our new property, Shady Glen was always a part of that decision. We knew that we wanted to reach out to them from the very beginning.” These ladies can’t wait to show off the heart of Jesus to our neighbors. We only hope that you feel the same. See you in January!
Lee & Ruthie Wiggins
There is nothing particularly unique about the story that brought us to this area or to Live Oak. Family ties brought us here and that family to Live Oak. Our biological family is just one of the reasons we stay. Our spiritual family, the church of Live Oak is a close second. Our life experience has taught us that the community of God’s people across the world is the best hook on which we can hang our hats.
The following, a part of our family history, may be a bit more unique than some. In the summer of 2017 we learned that our South Carolina daughter would be giving birth to our 16th grandchild. This little girl would come home to three brothers and a mom and dad who were anxious to meet her. At a routine 21 week pregnancy checkup we learned that there was nothing routine about this pregnancy. Dawson would not be not be coming home and would not be compatible with life outside the womb, even though the pregnancy would be full term. From that moment, to this day, our Live Oak family stepped into action. Prayers, cards, email, frequent texts, meals, hugs, shared tears, scripture verses came our way. We were joined in praying for a healing that did not come but what did come was a second layer of concern and love for our family as we grieved and wrestled with the sovereignty of an Almighty God.
Today our latest faith walk is centered on Dawson’s next oldest sibling. True to form, Bexley’s battle with ongoing epileptic seizures has not gone unnoticed by our church community. Prayers are being raised for complete healing, medication that will control his forceful head drops and protection for his four year old body until healing comes. The people of Live Oak, His church, are actively blessing us and so many others. Until God moves us from Bluffton we are here to stay, anxious to witness all that God has for this outpost of His universal kingdom.
Thank you Live Oak!