An audacious St. Nicholas Day plan

If you’re tired of shopping for Christmas gifts year after year for the same people who neither want nor need anything, have I got a deal for you.

As I have mentioned in the past, St. James has recently partnered with Wilmore-Davis Elementary School in Wheat Ridge. It’s the school closest to us, just a few blocks away at 7975 W. 41st. We hope, soon, to display some of their students’ artwork on our walls, and we’re also hoping to host a concert put on by their music students.

But beyond that, we’d like to play a role in the lives of their students and the students’ families, however and whenever we can.

The principal, Janace Fischer, told me that almost 60 percent of the 340 students at Wilmore Davis qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, meaning they come from families whose income is at or below the federal poverty level. That’s a lot of kids whose families may be struggling to survive.

Heaven knows we are not a wealthy congregation. But God has blessed us with a degree of abundance – enough to share our blessings with some folks less fortunate.

So this holiday season, we are adopting four Wilmore-Davis families whose needs are great. We’re still working out the details with the school, and should have things firmed up in the next week or so. We'll find out exactly what these families need, and what sizes of clothing the children need. My hope is that we at St. James can provide these things.

To accomplish this, here’s what we plan. In the very near future – even before we have our “Greening of the Church” party on Dec. 2 – we’re going to set up a “Giving Tree.” The “ornaments” on this tree will be paper tags, each with a name and an item that person needs. If it’s clothing, we’ll include sizes.

We’ll invite every parishioner to take one or more tags from the tree and shop for that item, then return the wrapped item, with the recipient’s name on it, back to the church.

Our hope is that we can have all these items bought, wrapped and returned in time for a St. Nicholas Day party at the church on the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 9. We’ll invite the families to attend that party as well, so we’ll have a chance to meet them, and hopefully form relationships that extend long after Christmas has come and gone.

That’s the plan. I realize that’s a lot to do between now and Dec. 9, especially for a project we’ve never undertaken before, ending with a party like we’ve never had before. But let us not limit ourselves by failing to dream big enough! Let’s be bold, not timid, when it comes to sharing God’s love with the world. We can do this, if we work together.

JoAnn Hamm – who recently outdid herself planning our spaghetti supper fund-raiser – has agreed to chair our St. Nicholas Day party. She may be calling on you to take on some party-related task. And I’m definitely calling on you to help do some shopping for this family. It will be a lot of work, but what a joyous challenge we have set for ourselves!

Stay tuned for more information, as the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to us more ways we can be of service to our community.