After what organizers called a successful first year, Helping Hand of Hope is expanding its Affordable Christmas program this year to additional churches and schools.

In 2018, Helping Hand of Hope collaborated with Valley Creek Baptist Church and Lin­coln Trail Elementary School for the program, which is a ministry meant to empower low-income parents by enabling them to purchase Christmas gifts for their children at a reduced cost.

“The feedback we received from last year’s Affordable Christmas pilot program was all positive,” said Gary Bohannon, executive director at Helping Hand of Hope in an organization news release. “The parents loved being able to purchase and select their children’s toys, the kids enjoyed that activities the church provided while their parents shopped and the church members were excited to have the opportunity to do some real hands-on ministry with the families.”

This year, Helping Hand of Hope is partnering with nine local churches and 11 Family Resource and Youth Services Centers to offer an Affordable Christmas program for the school’s low-income families. Only families invited by the school’s Fam­ily Resource Cen­ter can par­ticipate and these families must agree to participate only in the Afford­able Christmas program and not any other Christmas assistance program, the release said.

One of the churches joining the program this year is North­side Baptist Church in Elizabethtown. Tree Akers, Minister to Students, said the church is looking forward to collaborating with the program.

Akers said one of the things that drew the church in was a more hands-on personal touch it offers over the traditional Christmas assistance program.

“Instead of just going and giving out, there is a good amount of stewardship and ac­count­ability with the program they are doing,” he said. “We want to be able to provide Christ­mas for those folks, but want to do it wisely and not just throw money at something.”

One of the biggest reasons behind their involvement though, Akers said, is “God has called us and commanded to go unto all the world to share His love through the Christmas season.

“That is what this provides an opportunity for us to be able to do,” he said.

The release said businesses, churches and the community can assist the program by participating in WQXE’s Toy Factory toy drive – an Affordable Christmas partner; going to helpinghandofhope.com to learn more and see the shopping list; checking the Helping Hand of Hope’s Facebook page to learn more about participating and questions; signing up to host a toy drive; collecting monetary gifts; being a gift drop-off site; and volunteering.

Donations should be dropp­ed off to Helping Hand of Hope by Dec. 1. at the latest.

For those low-income families who prefer to participate in the more traditional Christmas assistance program Helping Hand of Hope has offered in the past, the release said Central Kentucky Rods and Machines Club has agreed to “adopt” several children and deliver clothes, toys and food to their homes before Christmas.

Low-income families not participating in Affordable Christmas can sign-up for the Central Kentucky Rods and Machines Christmas for Kids at Helping Hand of Hope’s office, 6796 South Wilson Road in Elizabethtown.

Sign-up for Central Ken­tucky’s Rods and Machines Christ­mas program begins Tuesday. Sign up hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Go to Helping Hand of Hope’s Face­book page for details and up­dates about sign­ing up for the Cen­tral Kentucky Rods and Mach­ines Christmas for Kids.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

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