Tender Hearts Caring Hands Take Action at Christmas
Kathleen Schuster, Director of Tender Hearts Caring Hands for Ministry Village at Olive, coordinates what she calls “Adopt a Family” at THCH every year, and she works tirelessly to make sure each family feels the love of Jesus. For over 10 years, Tender Hearts Caring Hands, a benevolence program of Ministry Village at Olive, has reached out to partners in the community to find families who need an extra hand at Christmas. “We contact the guidance counselors at a few area elementary schools – Ferry Pass, Montclair, Navy Point, Warrington & Bellview – and they each select 3 families in need from their schools,” explains Kathie.
The guidance counselors help Kathie gather information from each family. They send details about the family members and a Christmas wish list of special items for each child in the family. Kathie has members of Connection Groups from Olive Baptist Church who she works with each year to provide for the families, and she is passionate about finding the right match for each family. “As I receive the names and family information, I pray earnestly that the Lord will guide me to the right matches. Our Connection Groups are generous and caring, and every year, the Lord sends the right people to us for each family.” This year, Tender Hearts was able to bless 16 families – including 71 children! – with gifts, as well as 20 families with meals and dinner baskets. There were lots of bikes, Baby Alive dolls, footballs, basketballs, clothes, games and learning activities to deliver, along with a message of hope and the love of Jesus.
Prior to COVID changing the way everybody does business, the Connection Groups would take the family’s wish list and then purchase, wrap and deliver the items themselves. When the pandemic disrupted lives in 2020, Kathie planned for the necessary adjustments and continued some of those into 2021. “Due to COVID, I felt compelled to handle the process primarily myself, just to make it safer and easier for our donors to participate. So, those with concerns simply donated money toward the purchases and I handled the shopping, with the help of one ‘special volunteer elf’ – Tammy Davis. There have been a few groups who still opted to shop, wrap, and deliver the gifts themselves, and that has certainly been a blessing.” Gifts were wrapped by volunteers and delivered to the families during the week of Christmas.
Tender Hearts also partners with Lowe’s on Airport as well as Five Flags Sertoma Club to organize Christmas baskets for the families. They create generous baskets full of dry goods and perishables – and all the fixings needed for Christmas Dinner – and the Lowe’s Staff and Sertoma Club members deliver the food items to bring some added joy at Christmas. In addition this year, West Florida Hospital donated 4 fully decorated Christmas trees, so a few families were even blessed with decorations for their homes!
Ministry Village and Tender Hearts Caring Hands is thankful for the many volunteers and donors who support the Christmas Adopt a Family program each year. Thank you to Lowe’s on Airport, Five Flags Sertoma Club, West Florida Hospital, and each Connection Group and supporter who makes someone’s Christmas wishes come true!
Thank you for blessing our community and showing others the love of Jesus!