Church Continues Tradition of Giving at Christmas
For many of us, riding a bicycle as a child is one of our fondest early memories. According to a Sunshine article published in January 1991, this sentiment was the driving force behind a tradition of giving to Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) by one of its loyal supporters, First United Methodist Church of Grapevine.
Donating a bicycle to every child at MCH that wants one was started by a FUMC Grapevine member Jim Kennebrew who took the idea to his Sunday school class. The class worked together to refurbish used bicycles for the children of MCH. According to the article, Kennebrew remembered his best Christmas as a child was when he received his first bicycle, and he wanted to pass along that feeling of excitement to other children.
That initial act of generosity has transformed into a giving campaign supported by the entire church that has continued since the late 1980s, making it one of the longest-standing traditions at MCH.
“We are so thankful for FUMC Grapevine and their commitment to giving the children in our care the experience of receiving a brand new bicycle for Christmas,” said Allison Crawford, director of benefactor relations at MCH. “This tradition has been blessing our kids for more than 30 years and we look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come.”
For Christmas 2016, FUMC Grapevine donated 122 bicycles and helmets along with repair kits for the children of MCH. The bikes went to residents on the Waco campus and Boys Ranch, young adults served through the Transition Services program, and children served through MCH Family Outreach in Dallas.
Ted Vaughan, a member of FUMC Grapevine since 2003, led the efforts this year. He said the church has consistently communicated that “our goal is to reach beyond ourselves to touch the lives of others” which drives their desire to give to the children of MCH.
“The mission has always been a success because of the turnout and enthusiasm of the church,” Vaughan said. Vaughan has participated in the bike tradition since 2003 and said he has seen the tradition carry over through families, as many children who are now in high school and college continue to return every year to help out.
The giving process begins each October when the church corresponds with MCH to find out how many children are hoping for bicycles this year. FUMC Grapevine then negotiates prices with local sports stores and makes the purchase. Then on a Friday in early December a few weeks before MCH Christmas celebrations, church members put the bicycles together and load them onto a truck. Several members drive the truck down to Waco to deliver the bicycles in person. The bicycles are then unloaded by the church members as well as staff and youth from MCH.
Vaughan said he is proud of the efforts of his church, which participates in numerous mission projects including the bike tradition for MCH, adding he believes collectively we can make a difference.
“It has been through the love, the care and the hard work of these team members that I have learned the most and I am truly inspired to contribute to something greater than myself,” he said. “I have seen amazing results appear through these missions, most which I could never have imagined when I started the mission. To be placed and witness the love of God appear on Earth is a blessing for me and all involved in these missions, and, it provides an opportunity for us to see how the world can be a better place.”