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The Angels of St. Mark

Angels in our midst

Getting ready for its annual Angel Tree Christmas party, from left, Dick and Cindy McGhee, St. Mark Pastor Dave Grant, St. Mark Secretary Heather Tolley.
For 20 years the members of St. Mark United Methodist Church have reached out to those in need in Clinton.

As most things of this nature go, nobody has really kept count of the number of years (“About 20 years”) or the number of families who have been helped.

There is no record of how this started or how this particular ministry has evolved to what it is today.

They saw the need. They filled it. They see it still and continue to fill it for children and families in Clinton.

Cindy McGhee, the church’s Outreach Committee Chairman, organized this year’s annual Angel Tree, said the church gets names from those who know about a family’s situation and start to work.

McGhee said the Sunday after Thanksgiving a tree is put up in the church and angels with a child’s particulars (shoe and clothes sizes, a toy they may want) are listed on the back of the angel, so each child receives three angels, one for each category.

“Of course some people will buy all three things. We make sure each child has a new pair of shoes, a new outfit of clothes, and at least one toy,” McGhee said.

Within two weeks the angle tree is filled.

“There are some people who will shop for more than one child,” McGhee said.

And there has never been a shortage of giving.

McGhee said the church is very particular about keeping the names of the families being helped private.

“Some of these families are just in a run of bad luck. We don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed,” she said.

A couple of weeks before Christmas the church hosts a Christmas party of the families come to the church for a Christmas party.

Along with their angel tree gifts the children also get “stocking stuffers:” Coloring books, crayons, a Bible study book, the story of the birth of Christ, snacks, and a visit with Santa Claus.

“It’s one of my favorite things to take part in with the church,” St. Mark Secretary Heather Tolley said.

“It touches you when a family tells you, ‘This is only Christmas we’ll have.’”

The party is held during the week and the following Saturday they received a food box that holds everything for a Christmas Day feast.

McGhee said each family received a large box of perishable items (boxed and canned food), and those are put together in advance. The Saturday to pick up and/or deliver the food boxes, perishable items are added.

“There will also be a ham, sausage and eggs, a gallon of milk, other perishables will be included on the food pick up Saturday,” McGhee said.

Tolley laughed, noting, “There are a lot of items. I was surprised the first time I was involved with this how many trips it takes to deliver the food because there’s only so much you take in one trip.”

For 20 years there have been a lot of trips made, a lot of smiles created.

All stemming from an “Angel Tree” in a Methodist Church in Clinton.