Residents look over the variety of free clothing for adults and children. (Courtesy photo)
More than 400 families attended a festive Christmas giveaway at Bryant Temple AME Church on Dec. 24. A range of gifts, including toys, clothing, books, gift cards and food were distributed.
Residents expressed their appreciation and received the gifts in the positive spirit that they were offered. Pastor Dwain Jackson and Bryant Temple members coordinated the effort and a broad cross-section of local neighbors was on hand to enjoy the day.
A wide variety of contributors donated items including church members, the City of Los Angeles, community service institutions and private companies. According to Jackson, “All were committed to supporting our vision of community outreach and assisting people in need.”
Reflecting on the importance of the event, Jackson said, “This is ministry. Thousands of kids all over the city are in need of a little joy at this time of year. The church should be a beacon of light and serve the community.”
Each hour, five new bicycles were raffled off until all thirty were gone and a book giveaway was conducted as well. Tables filled with toys offered children a variety of opportunities to have fun. Also, shoppers browsed rows of shoes and racks of clothing that appealed to their tastes.
Russella, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, said the event was a great help to local people. “Receiving these items helps me a lot. Some of the people that I know here are homeless,” she observed. “This is an opportunity for them to enjoy themselves at Christmas time.”
Describing her motivation to volunteer, church member Juanita Freeman said, “Some of the people here are really in need. They’re private and they don’t want people to know that they are in need. But they’ll come to something like this,” she said.
Member Jean Ashley noted the event’s value to the well being of children. “Lots of little children wouldn’t have Christmas without something like this,” she noted.
“Some people don’t celebrate Christmas because they can’t afford certain things,” added Porsche Reyes.
Jackson said the giveaway event was part of the church’s ongoing commitment to uplift the lives of Leimert Park families through activities such as its weekly food pantry for needy residents. “The success of these events encourages us to plan even bigger and better events in the future,” he said.
Bryant Temple AME Church, located at 2525 W. Vernon Ave., in Los Angeles, observes its 50th Anniversary this year with a variety of celebrations and tributes. To learn more, call the church office at (323) 293-6201.