Monthly Archives: December 2014

Good Tidings Christmas Store

By: Eman Albash
Ohio State Social Work Intern with SON Ministries
Academic Year 2014/15

GT 2Christmas time is in the air! Last week SON Ministries and Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church partnered to bring together a Christmas shopping experience to lower income families in Hilliard.  Good Tidings, now in its second year, is a dignity Christmas Store and gives parents the opportunity to shop for brand new presents for their children. The presents were not free but they were discounted to 10% of retail value, so families who may not have a lot of resources had the chance to purchase new gifts for their children.   One man beamed, “I have all these amazing gifts for my children and all for only $14.   Thank you ALL so much!”

Good Tidings was far from being a gift handout. The volunteers (including me!) were trained to make the families feel as if they were shopping in an upscale toy store in a large city – and we were to show them the highest level of attention and customer service.

I saw this welcoming attitude throughout the entire night. While families were sitting in the waiting room before their appointments, volunteers made this environment enjoyable by walking around and offering coffee, sweets, and conversation. Families were escorted through the gift section by a Personal Shoppers, who joyfully showed parents around and helped them choose just the right gifts for their children. A small group of volunteers provided Santa’s Workshop (childcare, games and crafts) so that parents could shop unhindered and so children would be surprised on Christmas morning. The last stop for the families was the gift-wrapping stations. Families could choose to have a volunteer wrap their presents or wrap the gifts on their own – a luxury many families in need cannot typically afford.

For me, volunteering at Good Tidings really helped me paint a picture of SON Ministries’ philosophy of giving families a “hand up, not a hand out.” At first glance, it might seem counter-intuitive to make families who are at or under the poverty line pay for Christmas presents. However, the goal of Good Tidings is to allow low-income individuals the chance to be an active participant in choosing gifts for their children. In fact, in the past families have actually thanked the SON Ministries staff for allowing them to pay for their gifts. I was surprised when I heard about this, but it is true. Bringing families and volunteers together to create a friendly Christmas shopping experience is worlds apart from simply handing families pre-purchased, pre-wrapped gifts. Inviting families to be part of the experience and having them pay what they can afford really makes all the difference.

Volunteers help wrap presents at the gift-wrapping station
Volunteers help wrap presents at one of the gift-wrapping stations

I loved getting the chance to be part of Good Tidings.

Join SON Ministries in 2015!

At SON Ministries, we bring HOPE to children and families in need by connecting them to people, resources and a Hand Up.

Warm for the Winter: SON Ministries’ annual Winter Coat Store for Children

By: Eman Albash
Social Work Intern with SON Ministries
Year 2014/15

Coats 4

Coats 3

This is my first year being involved with SON Ministries and I’ve had a lot of new experiences. A couple of weeks ago I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend SON Ministries’ Winter Coat Store for Children for the first time.

The Winter Coat Store took place in the lobby of UALC:  The Church at Mill Run.   The lobby is very large and I never thought I would see the day where it was completely filled with people, but this night it was absolutely filled to the brim! There were people waiting in line to get coats and a generous group volunteers flitting around acting as personal shoppers, taking photographs, and doing just about every other job you can imagine!

My official job of the night was to offer the people attending the Store hospitality.    I drove a water cart around the room and offered water to the people who were standing in line. I enjoyed this job immensely. I had the opportunity to not only engage with the children as I normally do, but also to have conversations with the adults. One woman I talked to was the mother of one of our regular Teen Interns and she got to see her daughter in action, conversing with the people and acting as an Arabic translator when needed. I could tell the woman was very proud of her daughter and she was telling me her story:  how long she and her family had lived in the U.S., etc.   I don’t always have the chance to converse with the adults, so this was a welcome opportunity for me.

Though the night was cold, the lobby got warm pretty quickly and the adults and children were grateful for the water I offered as part of this experience.  Handing out water to the customers was just a simple task, but this one simple gesture helped create an atmosphere of friendliness and hospitality.

As a student of social work I’ve been exposed to a plethora of social service agencies.    Unfortunately not all of these places treat their clients or consumers with respect. I’ve come to realize that SON Ministries is unique. The staff has truly instilled the philosophy of not only respecting the people we serve but going above and beyond to show people that they are part of a community that truly cares about them. This caring can come in the simple form of a cup of water or taking a moment to listen to someone telling their story.

Though the Winter Coat Store for Children is finished for this year, the Good Tidings Christmas Store is now upon us – a dignity Christmas shopping experience for families in need.   As always, and by design, we at SON Ministries can only do the work that we do TOGETHER with people like YOU, as donors and/or volunteers.

Coats 6

Won’t you join us?

At SON Ministries, we see the DIVINE in each person; each has a purpose and a voice.

Saying Farewell to Autumn at Kids Club

By: Eman Albash
Ohio State Social Work Intern with SON Ministries
Academic Year 2014/15

Children enjoy boo-nana pops at snack time

It’s that exciting holiday time of year again. With the memory of Thanksgiving weekend still fresh in our minds and with Christmas right around the bend, we thought it would be fun to usher out the fall at Kids Club with a Fall Festival.

The night featured three fall-related games: Pin the Beak on the Turkey, a Mummy Wrap competition, and Steal the Bacon (the bacon being, in this case, a little round, stuffed witch). The crowd favorite seemed to be tied between Steal the Witch and the Mummy Wrap competition— every kid from ages 5 to 12 loved getting the chance to wrap up their friends in toilet paper!

We also incorporated the theme of fall into other activities we do each night, like arts and crafts and snack time. The faithful adult volunteer at the creativity table, Ms. Kim, helped the children make turkeys and black cats using paper plates. During snack time we offered the children a new treat: boo-nana pops. For those of you who don’t know, boo-nana pops are frozen bananas cut into fourths with chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth. When complete they look like ghosts, and they are both delicious and healthy. The children loved the extra snack and I saw children who typically don’t eat a snack at Kids Club ask for seconds.

The night was a lot of fun overall and couldn’t have happened without the combined efforts of many people. Upper Arlington Lutheran Church gave us special permission to use their kitchen to make and store the boo-nana pops. The volunteer in charge of the arts and crafts rearranged her schedule so she could come in on Thursday rather than her typical Tuesday. And our many volunteers were a huge help as usual, keeping the games and activities running smoothly.

And that's a wrap!
And that’s a wrap!

It seems that we gave tribute to fall just in time, too, as December is upon us. It looks like we might have to start getting to work on a winter festival…   Join us?

At SON Ministries, through PARTNERSHIPS, we strive together for the BEST for our community.