Monthly Archives: December 2013

Reflections on the Good Tidings Christmas Store – Hilliard 2013

(a Dignity Christmas Store, a partnership between SON Ministries and Cornerstone Christians Fellowship, with support from BMW Financial Services, New Life Christian Church)

By Betty Tom Denzer, SON Ministries Volunteer and Board Member


Last Wednesday evening, it was so nice to walk into the Good Tidings Christmas Store  at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship and feel so welcomed!  The positive energy level was amazing! There were many volunteers anxiously waiting to be trained and joyfully be part of the experience. A SON Ministries staff member did a wonderful job briefing us and giving us tips on how to work with families.  Families stood at the doorway watching and listening as we volunteers were then lead in a blessing over the evening, while holding hands in a circle.

As a volunteer Personal Shopper, my husband assisted a husband and wife who had 5 children. We escorted them around the tables with our arms full of toys.  The most exciting gift was the pair of high heel slippers for their 4 year old!   As we got to the check-out line, their total came to only $12.00 – for TEN NEW and beautiful gifts!

But wait, the (supremely hard working and dedicated) Volunteer Checkout Clerks then told the family their total  would only be $7.00 because the person in front of them had donated $5.00 for the next person in line!!!!

The Mom looked surprised but grateful!!!

When we offered gift wrapping, the husband and wife at first decided they would take supplies/paper home. However, when the couple got to the gift wrapping station to get their supplies, the volunteers warmly invited them to be creative right on the spot. I think this couple had the best time doing this activity!!!    Actually, the husband showed some of his creative talents!!!  They left with all their shopping done and wrapped!!!

The next family we assisted was a mom with 3 children. While waiting to pay for her gifts, she told me that her 8 year old did not believe in Santa anymore and had told the 2 younger siblings that “Mamma buys presents for Christmas and since she has no money, there will be no gifts this year.”  So won’t they be surprised…including the 8 year old…!!!  She left with all presents wrapped and ready to be hidden until the big day!!!  Another SON volunteer came over and gave this woman a big hug – clearly a relationship underway…

I was then greeted at the door by a mom wanting to shop for her 13 year old twins.  While I was an Americorps VISTA with SON Ministries, I had met this mom and gotten to know her two children.   Though I hadn’t seen them recently, we had first met 2 years earlier, the summer they arrived to this country.    The children participated in SON’s Hilliard Free Summer Lunch Camp for Kids right away that first summer and then that first school year at the Family ESOL/KIDS Club Program.

What a wonderful reunion for us at Good Tidings and a great opportunity to catch up after not seeing this family for a year!

We just stood there and screamed, hugged each other like little kids… As my husband and I helped her shop, she informed us that her husband is doing well and healthy now.  The children are doing well in school. Her son has talents to become an artist one day.  She is now employed and working at Marshall’s in Hilliard!

It is these SON Ministries success stories we want to share. How can you explain to someone about the impact of hours of listening, friendship, encouragement, providing job search skills, English language skills, making connections to resources, providing programming and serving as an avenue for her children to make friends, that has allowed this immigrant family to now be so well-integrated into the Hilliard community.  For the first time last night, this mom wrapped presents for her children beaming!  God is sooooo good….

So, my experience  last night was not just about serving families in need, it was much bigger than that…  Partnerships/relationships are pretty powerful.  Seeing Pastors Joseph and Irma Chon at work in their Church home with the support of SON Ministries was so wonderful. That church came alive last night!!

 I felt like God had his arms around me, took me aside and whispered in my ear saying: “Betty, I want to remind and show you again who I am and what I am all about. Do you get it and will you help me?”

What do you say when God calls?

At SON Ministries, through PARTNERSHIPS, we strive TOGETHER for the BEST for our community… 

At SON Ministries we are INSPIRED by the UNEXPECTED.


Katie Ganick
AmeriCorps VISTA at SON Ministries 

The craft table at Family ESOL/ Kids Club is one of my favorite places to observe.  It is also a favorite place of the children too -mostly because of one dedicated and faithful volunteer who shows up weekly, providing crafts and activities for the children.  The special relationship that the children have with this volunteer is evident.  They wait patiently for her to show up and often stay after, spending extra time to help her clean up, rather than play. Image

As the holidays are approaching, the children had been working on festive crafts! I love seeing the children’s imagination and creativity through these crafts and last night was no exception.   The children were working on table center pieces that were decorated with white fluffy stuffing that looked like snow.  They started off following the directions to the craft and then finished making their beautiful center pieces.   When the majority had finished their projects, they began to pick up the fluffy stuffing off of the table and play with it.  I joined in and picked up a piece too and decided to make it into a mustache.  They loved this and soon everyone wanted mustaches.  However, the children took it to the next level and showed their true imagination! Mustaches soon turned into long fluffy Santa Claus beards, perfect for the holidays!  Beards turned into bushy eyebrows and eyebrows led to white snowy hair!  Both boys and girls enjoyed playing dress up and making their hairy creations.  They ran around the gym showing off their white fluffy additions, attracting other children to do the same.   After this, the gym was filled with little “Kids Club Santas” – bringing smiles to EVERYONE’S faces.  It was impossible not to laugh and smile at their creativity.  At SON Ministries we are INSPIRED by the UNEXPECTED! 

God’s Glory in a Small World

“The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1


We often tell people that you can make a difference in the lives of children when you volunteer for SON Ministries.  We also say that by doing so, you will be blessed.  I have seen this to be true over and over.  I have come to realize recently that there are even more often “unseen” people blessed if you dig a little deeper. 

My mother is elderly, confined to a wheel chair, in poor health and has few resources.  Each time I visit her in the nursing home she asks “how are your children?”  She is not referring to my own two children, her grandchildren.  She is referring to the children at Family/ESOL Kids Club.  She delights in hearing that the young children painted with marbles or that the Metro Parks visited and brought a snake, frog and turtle to show the children.  She was “over the moon” when she learned that we were setting up a Winter Coat Store and that children in need would receive a new, warm coat at low cost. 

My mother’s world is very small.  She shares a small room in a nursing home and has not left the building in 3 years.  Despite this, she experiences the glory of God each time she hears the stories and looks at the photos of the children whose lives are touched by ALL involved with SON Ministries. 

This Christmas season I encourage you to consider the “unseen” in your lives.

Pam Vallette, SON Ministries, Program Manager

Blessings at the Winter Coat Store for Kids

By: Ciara Alexander


It’s that time of year again—the cold winds usher in a chill as temperatures and snowflakes begin to fall.  New needs rise this time of year, bringing about new opportunities for Serving Our Neighbors Ministries to meet them… and that’s just what we did!  On November 7th, SON Ministries held a Winter Coat Store for Kids where 363 new, generously donated coats were distributed to those in need in the Hilliard area.

As an OSU Social Work Intern newly placed with SON Ministries for the academic year, it was my first experience with this event.  My eyes widened at first glance of  UALC The Church at Mill Run’s hallways overflowing with multitudes of families waiting for coats (143 of them to be exact).  I had my preconceived ideas of what the night would hold—mostly consisting of exchanges with familiar faces from SON Ministries’ Tuesday and Thursday night Family ESOL/KIDS Club  program.  Never did I imagine that a coat distribution would touch the depths of mourning hearts!  But it did, and I saw this firsthand as the mother of one refugee family, who came for coats for her own children, told us she knew five surviving boys from a terrible car accident—one that claimed the lives of the boys’ refugee parents and their four sisters.  Thanks to the help of generous donors and committed volunteers, SON Ministries was able to provide 5 winter coats to these boys – through their loving neighbor.

In that moment, I was reminded of God’s promise to bestow beauty for ashes and gladness for mourning to the poor and powerless.  I was completely blessed not only to see SON Ministries meet this need, but because through SON Ministries, a member of the community was carrying out the command in Galatians 5 to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  It made me glad!

Thank you to each and every donor, volunteer and family that made SON Ministries’ Winter Coat Store for Kids 2013 a success! It was truly a blessed night.

–At SON Ministries, we build up COMMUNITY one respectful, empowering relationship at a time.

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