St. Anne’s Episcopal Church Serves the Community by Participating in the “Love Out Loud” Project

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By Barbara Campbell

Love Out Loud began in 2008 with the first Christmas for the City at the Millennium Center in downtown Winston-Salem by focusing on two single phrases: “Look for the activity of God” and “Be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Since that time, Love Out Loud has built strong relationships to form a collective of Christ-centered churches (over 50), groups, and individuals living out Christ’s call to love our neighbor.

Each year, the project has sponsored a Gift Mart and a city-wide Christmas party. This year the Gift Mart will be held on December 16 at the Benton Convention Center. Churches, schools, and agencies will refer disadvantaged families who might not have a Christmas the opportunity for parents to purchase two larger gifts per child at much-reduced rates. For example, a bike may cost $5 (the maximum cost of any gift) or smaller gifts cost a smaller price. Last year, the Gift Mart served 750 children and 280 families. By allowing parents an opportunity to participate in the cost of giving, it preserves their dignity and allows them to establish their own family traditions.

St. Anne’s Episcopal Church supported the Gift Mart by being a collection site for gifts. Members of the church, families, and friends were encouraged to bring unwrapped gifts for both young children and teens. A bare-branch tree was placed in the Parish Center where gifts were collected. Once a gift was placed under the tree, a tag was completed to identify the gift and then hung on the tree.

“Our goal was to fill the tree and spread love to those in our community,” said Susie Bleckley, co-chair for the project.

Church members will also participate in the Christmas for the City party on December 21 at the Benton Convention Center, where 12,000 guests are expected. Everyone is invited to attend this free event! Along with music, food, and Santa; there is an area where children and their families can participate in a number of activities.

St. Anne’s has chosen the “Kindness Rocks” project” as its activity. “We are preparing for 1,200 children,” said Susie Bleckley. “We will paint river rocks in a variety of colors and have the children write an inspiring short message on a rock. The children will take the decorated rocks home and place them in their neighborhoods for others to discover as a way to spread love and holiday cheer.”

St. Anne’s prides itself on community service. This is just one way the church strives to make a difference and “be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Barbara Campbell is a member of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and co-chair of the Gift Mart project.

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