A couple with a special mission was among the 1,350 volunteers at The Manger this year.
Eleven years ago, they had five children, $20 in the bank and Christmas was coming.
Income was thin despite Dwane’s full-time employment as a teacher, because they both believed strongly in the importance of Gretchen staying home with the children. Unfortunately, his salary didn’t stretch far enough to provide any Christmas for their family.
They heard about The Manger, a Christmas shopping experience presented annually by GraceWorks to allow low-income families the opportunity to choose their own gifts for each other.
Reflecting about their shopping experience 11 years ago, Gretchen said, “It was amazing. Everyone was so kind. It had a big impact – both in meeting our need and in the way we were blessed.”
This year, Gretchen and Dwane wanted to touch hearts in the same way their own hearts were touched 11 years ago at The Manger. Little did they know, they were an answered prayer! The first night they came to serve, GraceWorks had a special request. GraceWorks asked if any volunteers would help us assemble bikes. Dwane stepped forward and told us he was a certified bike assembler! He led a small group of people in assembling 15 or 20 bikes for us that night.
The couple volunteered at two more sessions throughout the week, and three of their daughters were able to serve with them as well. Their service included wrapping gifts and helping families choose gifts. Their service was a beautiful expression of GraceWorks mission of Neighbor serving Neighbor, by the power of God’s grace. They had been served, and now they were serving.
Gretchen summarized it beautifully, “Our children still remember the gifts they got from The Manger. We wanted to help families get that same kind of joy.”