Gift giving campaign celebrates 10 years at Harvest Christian ChurchBY PASTOR JON
For most children in Toronto, the anticipation connected with waking up on Christmas morning is filled with eager emotions of joy and excitement. However, for many young people growing up in one of Toronto’s 31 priority neighbourhoods, Christmas day arrives with little fanfare, as the most desired (and unaffordable) gifts lie outside of ever shrinking family budgets. This was the situation that confronted father and son pastoral team Moses and Jon Sarpong 10 years ago when their church moved to 196 Toryork Drive, in the heart of Humber Summit.
“Many of our congregation members lived in nearby priority neighbourhoods like Jane-Finch, Jamestown and Weston Mount-Dennis at the time,” said Jon Sarpong. “Christmas was coming up and we decided to try and give a gift to every child in the church. We collected gifts from friends, family members and members of the church and presented the gifts to the kids during our Christmas party. It was so well received that we decided to continue the tradition every year, growing it out to give as many gifts as we could to as many children as we could. Now it is ten years later and we’re happy to be continuing the tradition with the help of our neighbours in Humber Summit.”
This year Harvest Christian Church (known locally as HCC) hopes to provide gifts to 100 families in the surrounding area, and is calling on neighbours and local businesses to get involved in spreading a positive Christmas spirit.
“We are really hoping to get more participants in our campaign this year,” said Rev Moses Sarpong. “We would love for businesses in the area to collect new and unwrapped gifts from their employees, so that we can distribute them to kids in the community. We also realize that many people don’t have time to go out and purchase a gift, so we also accept monetary donations in person at the church or through our website—we then can use that money to buy presents for the kids.”
For both pastors, connecting with youth in priority neighbourhoods is of crucial importance. Having personally counselled countless families and individuals touched by youth crime and violence, the duo believe that building early relationships that demonstrate a sincere interest in the lives of young people is crucial.
“It is so important to show kids that someone cares,” said Pastor Jon Sarpong. “A lot of people may think that a Christmas present won’t make a difference, but believe me, I’ve seen the impact that these gifts have on young people. When they see that someone cares enough to give them a gift, it can change their whole perspective on life—and stop them from going down a dangerous path. We are here to help people and I know that these gifts help.”
To support this year’s gift giving campaign, drop off a new, unwrapped gift, or make an in person monetary donation at:
Harvest Christian Church, 196 Toryork Drive.
Visit: myhcc.org for more information.