By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor
The Gadsden campus of Church of the Highlands joined in with a regional annual holiday event centered around giving back last weekend — Giving Hope.
On December 9 and 10, campuses of Church of the Highlands across Alabama and Georgia provided Christmas gifts to families who may not have been able to otherwise have Christmas presents.
Across the 26 different campuses participating, including Gadsden, nearly 7,000 volunteers spent the weekend wrapping gifts, loading them up and distributing them to more than 3,700 parents in Alabama and Georgia.
“Giving Hope is more than helping put a gift under the Christmas tree,” said Church of the Highlands Senior Pastor Chris Hodges. “By meeting practical needs of children and families in the name of Jesus, we are giving the lifelong gift of hope.”
Locally, the Gadsden campus saw over 270 volunteers and served nearly 500 children with donated gifts.
Families were given the opportunity to select gifts for their children in an experience that resembles shopping in a mall. This year, more than 3,700 parents regionally parents locally, were able to shop for their children. In total, about 10,000 children will receive gifts as a result of the event.
In Gadsden, almost 200 parents participated in choosing from over 1,500 items.
Each of the 26 campuses hosted an event for local families, like Gadsden’s did. While parents shopped, and gifts were wrapped by volunteers, children participated in age-appropriate activities and left without knowing their parents had gotten new gifts for them at the event.
“We love serving our friends and neighbors” said Mark Price, pastor of the Church of the Highlands campus in Gadsden. “We find opportunities to spread joy around Gadsden in the name of Jesus throughout the year, and Giving Hope is our chance to support kids and families during this special season.”
Ministry teams were available to pray with the families that came to the event, and according to Church of the Highlands, 65 participants at the Gadsden location joined in a prayer of salvation.
Participants were invited through partner community organizations, which helped identify those in need. Church members and attendees at every campus location volunteered to adopt a packet and sponsor a family. The sponsors then shopped and provided gifts for children of the gender and age group of their choice.
The first Giving Hope event was held in 2014, and it continues to grow throughout communities where Highlands is located.
The Gadsden campus of Church of the Highlands, located at 4409 Airport Road, opened its doors in 2016. Services are held Sundays at 8 a.m., 9:45 a.m. 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday services are held at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday morning prayer service is held at 9 a.m.
In addition to church services, the campus also offers “small groups” which explore different topics with religion in mind, like relationships, child rearing and prayer.
For more information on Church of the Highlands, visit www.churchofthehighlands.com.