The line of people waiting to take part in the After Christmas Giveaway stretched length of Waxahachie Bible Church and around the corner Saturday morning.
In its fourth year, the giveaway has grown each year and continues to receive enough donations to provide everyone who comes with a hand up.
“We are very excited. In a few minutes we have seen hundreds of people coming through to pick up a lot of things that they need. We have had generous donations all week long,” Waxahachie Bible Church Senior Pastor Bruce Zimmerman said. “The auditorium is full, so we are excited about people coming by to get things that they will use for their families and kids.”
Zimmerman said local residents have heard about the giving in lots of different ways with one person saying that they read about it on a poster at their barbershop. The giveaways started four years ago after Zimmerman delivered a sermon to the congregation out of 1 John 3:16-18 in the Bible.
In this passage it talks about Christ’s love which he demonstrated to all of mankind by giving up his life. It also gives a message to humanity about helping others who have needs and showing Christ's love to others by giving.
Zimmerman challenged the church to show Christ’s love to others by giving away items they had too much of or that they knew would help others. From this challenge the giveaway has grown from a few tables in the hallway of the church to packing the church's entire sanctuary into a scene in any department store. The big difference is everything is free and donated.
“The people here at the church have really gotten a vision for it and wanted to be a part of it. It has been wonderful to see all these people here helping and sharing the love of Christ with others,” Zimmerman said. “It is neat to see people go through their closet and say 'these are things that I don’t need anymore but someone else could use them.'”
Donations included electronics, furniture, clothing, shoes, toys, books, linens, food, housewares and home décor. A small army of volunteers throughout the week sorted the items. Clothing was sorted by size and other items were put into different categories to make for a convenient shopping experience. Donations came from both church members and members of the community.
“I had a man come by yesterday who I had never seen before and not from our church. He said 'I am not going to wear these suits anymore,'” Zimmerman said. “He brought probably around 10 business suits and then brought in 20 or 30 dress shirts. He said ‘I'm a jeans and T-shirts guy now since I have retired. I don’t need any of those dress clothes anymore.’ So somebody is going to come away with some nice suits and dress shirts.”
Hundreds turned out and, in groups, made their way through the sanctuary, picking out anything they needed and getting in line to come back through for more if they needed.
Zimmerman said one of the people he met was a brand new teacher that was looking for items for his new baby. Another person was a former homeless person who had just gotten a new job and had found a place to live.
Zimmerman said it is exciting to be able to meet the needs to meet these needs of so many people.
The items that were left over will be donated to several local charities in the community to help them with their mission of service.
Zimmerman said he would like to thank all of the people who made a generous donation to the giveaway, Starbucks for providing free coffee to shoppers, and the First Methodist Church for providing clothing racks to display items.