This Christmas¬†¬†over 100 families (and by extension about 500¬†individuals)¬† will be receiving $10,000. in gift cards plus over 500¬†toys and gifts. ¬† This is part of the Holiday Dream Initiative of the Kingdom Culture Ministries (KCM)¬†in Ottawa. KMC¬†contributed the $10,000. in gift cards while¬†the 500+ gifts and toys were donated by Care and Share and Toy Mountain.¬†(see more info at the end of this article). KMC¬† is a non-denominational¬† ministry which has a vision to¬†¬†reach every sphere of influence with the message of the kingdom of God with salvation, miracles, healings, deliverance, and signs & wonders following.
KCM will be ¬†hosting their Annual Christmas Celebration on December 24th at 4 and 6p.m where gifts will be presented to recipients, there will be¬†10 draws¬†for $50.00¬†gift cards plus every single child who attends will receive a Christmas gift!¬† If you are in Ottawa - it is certainly a place to consider going to for your Christmas celebration!
I have been to several of the their¬†events/activities¬†and I feel blessed each time I visit because I can see the practical impact that this Ministry has on the lives of others. At the invitation of my friend Gemma, I attended the gift wrapping event this weekend (and brought my daughter to volunteer as well!).¬† When we walked in, a large number of people were standing in line waiting for their turn to go in to select the gift which they wanted for their families.¬† Inside the church auditorium, the carpet along one wall was lined with hundreds of gifts for each person to choose. A host welcomed the¬† individual, took him/her to choose the gift they wanted and someone else wrapped it for them.¬† Wrapped gifts were put on the side with the recipients name on it - to be given to the individual on Christmas Eve at a Christmas celebration at 4 and 6p.m. Those who cannot make it that evening, took their gifts home.
I¬†was¬†very impressed with the high level of organization, good energy, enthusiasm, willingness and excitement amongst the almost 100 volunteers who have been working on this initiative over the last three months.¬† Charity is a¬†HUGE part of this KCM as they make it their mission to reach out to support the lives of the less fortunate, the homeless, those in need of prayers, healing and emotional support.¬† This year, the Holiday Dream was organized more strategically to ensure that the gifts were presented to people who are really in need of it.¬† After a thorough screening process, 100 applications were screened in but by extension of family members about 500 individuals will receive gifts.
""Many of the people who are being blessed with those gifts are not part of our regular¬† congregation. ¬† They come from all walks of life and we support them within the community¬†all through the year.¬† At Christmas time, because it is the¬† season of giving, we do this as an act of love.¬† We want people to know that Jesus is the gift of love.""¬†
Shawn Gabie, co-founder of KCM.
Shawn and I spoke about the ""working poor"" and the fact that this group of people is actually widening in Canada.¬† He defined the ""working poor"" as those who are falling in between the cracks, those who are unemployed, under-employed, who live in dysfunctional families or who are on social assistance.
""For many people, Christmas is the best or worst time of the year.¬† The best for those who can afford to both give and receive but worst for those who cannot make ends meet, who don't have the extra money at the end of the year to afford buying Christmas presents and also those who live in dysfunctional families who are pressured to ""feel happy and cheerful"" when their reality is not that.""
KMC's presence is rapidly growing within Ottawa as many see this ministry as a bridge between the teachings of the Ministry and responding to the practical needs of the people within the community.
""We are tired of living in Ottawa and not knowing who are neighbours are.""
said Sandy Rasiciot, the Benovelance Supervisor who works under the supervision of Pastor Joe Mebrahtu. ""We want our congregation to know that we work together - this is what building community is all about.""¬†
Sandy has been one of the key leaders in coordinating the Holiday Dream Initiative. I asked her about the level of effort it takes to make it a reality.
""It is about four months of preparation with¬†over 100 volunteers giving about 3 - 4 hours daily, doing a variety of tasks from screening in applications, working on sponsorship, assessing family needs, working in various committees such as gift wrapping, hospitality, coordination between the ministry and families, managing correspondences...""
she explained. ""At Christmas time we do the Holiday Dream but we have initiatives going on all year round to help support individuals and families who are going through difficult times.""
Shawn shared with me that KCM gives back to the community 10% of all the funds that they receive which further allows them to work more into the community. KMC is supported by the congregation, local and international partners.
One of the stories I heard yesterday touched my heart. This Muslim woman walked in and donated $600.00 towards KCM.¬† For a mom with five kids, this is quite a substantial amount of money to donate to charity.¬† However she was very convinced that it was the right thing to do.
""Kingdom Culture Ministries have helped me all along the way - since I first came to Canada as a new immigrant five years ago. They are not only here for us at Christmas time. I am a Muslim - I come from a different faith but it does not matter.¬†We are all human beings who have the same need.¬† KMC was here for me when I had my first son.¬† They provided so much emotional support for me. Last year, they brought me a new stove and refrigerator because the ones we had were none functional.""
I questioned her more about her $600.00 contribution.
""I want to give it to them."" she said. ""Our family saved the money which we receive from the Child Tax Benefit and the interest from that savings accumulated to $600.00.¬† As a practising Muslim, we cannot use the interest.¬† We have to give it back to charity or the community.¬† Therefore I have chosen to contribute back to KCM.""
Another donor,¬† Rachelle Steele got a challenge going on at her work place¬†and she raised one¬†Galaxy laptop and¬† twenty five gift items for the Holiday Dream Initiative.
Excitement brimmed in the air. Volunteers eagerly directed people and a hospitality team (below) happily ensured that there was enough coffee, cookies, cupcakes and pizza to feed everyone who was participating.
Ian Wotherspoon is one of the volunteers who takes great pride in volunteering for the ministry for the last several years.
""God has blessed me.""
he shared.¬† ""In turn, I can bless others who cannot afford. It is all about giving.""
Natahsa Richmond, an elementary school teacher is another volunteer with the program.
¬†""As a teacher, I see how Christmas affects children who don't have as much.""
she told me. ""This is an opportunity for us to share love with each other.""
I asked Shawn to list five key elements that others (organizations and individuals) would have to consider to take on such an initiative within their own communities. His top five things were:
1) Establish a vision
- Why do you wan to do it?
2) Step out and make connections.¬†
- What other organizations are already engaged in similar efforts?¬† Who can you partner with?¬†How can you engage your¬†¬†community, build relationships and utilize and leverage resources?
3) Rally support from others who share the same values.
4) Create an environment where the values is NORMAL and it is sustainable.
For example, the leadership must really see the value of reaching out to the community as a normal everyday practice in order to step out and bring together the community in a dynamic way. How can we create a influence on others through our daily actions?
5) ""Offer everything in an unconditional way.¬† NO strings attached.""
God's love is unconditional.¬† Be genuine.¬† At the end it is an ultimate win-win."