By Kathryn Shindeldecker

Last year I had the opportunity to take over the responsibility of managing the Chapel’s Giving Tree. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the custom, but for our newbies I will provide a crash course: we, as a church community, commit to provide material goods to families in need through the Wellspring Lutheran formerly known as Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) of Michigan.

As you leave church, you swing by the Giving Tree, pick off an ornament that instructs you what to purchase (usually something fairly generic like “men’s socks” or “queen-sized mattress sheets”). You zip over to Meijer, purchase your item (and get your grocery shopping done to boot), and drop it off under the tree the next Sunday.

After that, if you’re anything like me, you say a prayer, feel good about yourself for a bit, and almost immediately forget all about it and go about your life. Hey, no judgments here…I mean, it’s a pretty small gesture, right? You usually don’t spend more than $25, and you don’t even know the recipient or get to wrap it up with a pretty bow!

Anyway, one of the few things you must do when you manage the Chapel’s Giving Tree is make sure that you take all the gifts over to St. Luke-Ann Arbor by a certain date so that the entire church campus’ gifts are delivered to the Wellspring site together. Well, last year I must have gotten caught up in the Christmas spirit because the date somehow slipped right by me.

Thankfully, I was able to drive the donations directly to the Wellspring offices on a Saturday morning. When I got there, two women were hard at work, but still stopped to help me unload my car. They were AMAZED – they couldn’t believe just how much I had brought to them! My car was overflowing with your gifts. I felt so blessed to be a part of such a generous church family.

This year, when you pick up your “little girl’s winter coat” or “various toiletry items,” remember that your small purchase adds up to a BIG donation. I would also encourage you to remember the families we are serving through the Giving Tree through the whole holiday season and beyond. Include them in your daily prayers, and give thanks for groups like Wellspring Lutheran that serve as God’s hands and feet in our community.