By Kara Witherow, Editor
Jeanie Hoffman is an avid crocheter and has kept busy in her 12 years of retirement by making prayer shawls, hats, and blankets.
When a local thrift store generously donated her a large supply of yarn, Hoffman considered what to create. She knew of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth and the ministry it provides to children and families across South Georgia, and decided to make hats for the 140 children served by The Home.
“Something told me The Children’s Home,” she said. “It must have been God!”
Hoffman crocheted as she and her husband, Bill, members of College Place United Methodist Church in Brunswick, were evacuated from their home in September as Hurricane Irma approached the coast. She continued crocheting as they waited on their roof to be repaired from the three trees that fell across it. Each colorful hat took between one and one-and-a-half hours to make.
The Hoffmans recently visited the Methodist Home and presented staff with 145 handmade hats. Each of the Home’s 140 children will be given one for Christmas.
“I just wanted each child to feel special and to have something handmade for Christmas,” she said. “I wanted to show them God’s love. I prayed for each child as I made the hats.”
For at least the past 20 years, Tifton First United Methodist Church has helped give the Methodist Home’s children and youth a special Christmas. This year was no different, with the congregation giving each of the Home’s children a $25 gift card to buy themselves a gift of their choosing. The church also gave the Methodist Home’s Valdosta campus a $2,000 gift that was used to purchase furniture for one of their cabins.
“This gift helps our kids beyond Christmas,” said Brittany Grier, The Methodist Home’s marketing coordinator.
The congregation finds it meaningful to give to the Methodist Home and feels that supporting the ministry is an important part of its outreach efforts, said Joy West, who co-chairs Tifton First UMC”s missions committee.
“A few months from now I probably won’t remember what gifts I got for Christmas, but we will remember the things we’ve done for the children and other people during this time,” West said. “We want to let them know that people do care.”
The generosity of congregations and individuals helps the Methodist Home’s children and youth more fully understand the meaning of Christmas and a generous God, said Rev. Mark Magoni, The Methodist Home’s chaplain and vice president of church relations. Churches from around the conference provide gifts, parties, and help spread Christmas cheer.
“It means a tremendous amount to these kids to have caring adults who are willing to invest in their life at a time when there’s not much hope, Rev. Magoni said. “It brings them hope and happiness and joy to know that somebody cares about them. It makes them realize that they are valuable and have worth.”
Decade after decade congregations have given and been faithful to help the Home’s children. For years Davisboro United Methodist Church has provided a Christmas luncheon and given more than $1,000 in gift cards. Hopewell United Methodist Church donated more than $1,000 in gift cards this year, too, while Perry United Methodist Church threw a birthday party for Jesus and included gifts and a visit from Santa. Buckhorn United Methodist Church donated Christmas cookies and gifts.
Their generosity overwhelms Rev. Magoni.
“We can’t take care of kids the way everyone would want a child to be taken care of without this kind of support,” he said. “These churches come alongside and help us do what we’re called to do, and we’re able to fulfill the call on our agency because of that. We serve a big God, and He uses all of His people to accomplish the establishing of His kingdom, and it’s neat to be a part of that, in a very tangible, practical way.”