Valley Churches United Missions
It happened again this year in September, as it has every September since 1981. Valley Churches United Missions began distributing holiday sign up sheets to their clients at the food pantry/emergency assistance center in Ben Lomond, which services those in need in the San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley and Bonny Doon.
Families and adult-only households are encouraged to sign up for special Christmas food bags offered by VCUM. Households with children are invited to request special gifts for each of the children in the family. Sign-ups are in the VCUM pantry during pantry hours, Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-12 noon for residents of VCUM’s service area.
All children, ages newborn to 18 (if still in high school), submit a Santa letter (mom and dad compose the letter for the little ones), and even the teenagers, who may no longer believe in Santa, happily write a letter with the hope that one or two of their requests may be granted. And, traditionally, more than their most-requested gifts are presented on Christmas day. This is because of the great outpouring of donations to VCUM to support this long-running project. Businesses or individuals may adopt a family that is especially in need and provide gifts, a Christmas tree and decor, as well a Christmas dinner.
A cadre of VCUM volunteers prepares the submitted letters and stockings for distribution. You’ll see Valley Churches’ red and white stockings hanging on Christmas trees in banks, offices, stores, post offices and churches, and you’re encouraged to take a stocking and fulfill the wishes of a child. The first name and age of the child is on each stocking so that you can choose the one that you would especially like to help. Each child’s personal Santa letter is included in the stocking. Some of the children’s requested gifts are not always donated, and cash donations to VCUM are welcome so that gifts can be purchased to help each child’s Christmas wish comes true.
When toys and gifts are brought to VCUM or another designated drop off point, the true spirit of Christmas shines throughout the VCUM facilities as volunteers match gifts with wish lists and carefully wrap each package.
All family gifts are then bagged and stored until the day of gift distribution. This year it is on December 19. In 2013 and 2014, the average number of gifts collected, wrapped and distributed to children was over 4,000 per year.
Think of your best Christmas ever. Then help a child have theirs by taking a Santa stocking and granting their wishes. Or you may make a contribution to Valley Churches United Missions and use PayPal to make your much-needed donation.
For more information on how to adopt a family this holiday season, or how you can become a volunteer, call Valley Churches United Missions at 831-336-8258, x228 or drop by VCUM at 9400 Hwy 9 Ben Lomond, CA 95005 or visit: www.vcum.org.