A little miracle happened in South Apopka Saturday.
Five area churches partnered with The Big Potato Foundation of Apopka to shower 26 underprivileged families with gifts in an event they named "Adopt A Family". The collaboration made it possible for Christmas to come early for a church-full of children.
"We want to find those families who are under the radar," said Pam Welker, Director of Charitable Programming for The Big Potato Foundation. "They don't receive food stamps or any type of government help, but they can't afford Christmas."
The Temple of Faith Church in South Apopka was established in 1974 by its iconic founder Apostle GH Washington and his wife Mother Mary Washington. The congregation moved into its current building in 1981. Washington pastored the church until his death in 2014. Pastor Mims Rouse Sr. took over for Washington.
The Temple of Faith is in the heart of South Apopka and is a part of the fabric of this community. They were the host of the event, and it was families they were aware of that were the beneficiaries of the gifts.
Four churches donated gifts (Forest Lake SDA Church in Apopka, Inspire Church in Apopka, The Net SDA Church in Clermont and Trinity Baptist Church in Apopka). Welker estimated that over 250 gifts were distributed to the families.
Denise Badger, the Lead Pastor of Inspire, was moved by the unity displayed at the event.
"Besides the energy that came from seeing the excitement and happiness of the kids and families we were helping, the thing that made us smile deep inside was the instant connection experienced with strangers from all different backgrounds joyfully conspiring together for good," she said. "We have never been to the Temple of Faith Church, didn't know where to park or who to see, but when we drove up I saw a couple people standing outside... so I rolled down my window to find out where I should go next. We were greeted with friendly offers to assist and a genuine camaraderie of spirit as we introduced ourselves and unloaded gifts together for the children. Inside the same spirit reigned--church lines, cultural differences, age, gender, race didn't matter. What mattered was uniting for the sake of others, hearts and hands connecting to bring joy to our neighbors in need."
Matt Jordan is President of The Big Potato Foundation, which was the primary sponsor of the event. And in his viewpoint, everyone is in need of help.
"Community is at the core of everything we do at Big Potato. All of us are needy in some way. All of us need interaction. We need each other. This is what community is about. I'm grateful for the community we live in, and Big Potato is thrilled to be a part of this day. "
According to its website, the mission of the Big Potato Foundation is to cultivate its community through charitable, creative, and cultural programs, which strive to inspire the members of its community and engage those around us with a sense of gratitude and a heart of service.
It certainly inspired Badger.
"In less than an hour, focused together on giving, a vision took stronger root of what Christmas was to be about -- not a one time feel good experience of good will, but a reminder that this is what the rest of the year can look like --is supposed to look like -- when we come together in genuine love for the sake of others. I can't wait to be a part of nurturing that root of unity and service to further blossom in 2017."
Photographs by Cosette Badger.
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