Watered Gardens’ Christmas Market offers toys, games, clothes, and stocking stuffers to families who would otherwise struggle to afford them. Instead of money, shoppers pay with time—partnering in our Worth Shop to earn the gifts. The time required depends on the size and quality of the items, but the exchange rate is very generous. A little work goes a long way!
The first time I ever remember getting a Christmas present, I was about eight years old. I’m not entirely sure of the “who” or “how” but people showed up at our door with gifts for me and my eight siblings and boxes of food, including a turkey for dinner. As an adult, I look back and think our names must’ve been given to a church or charity. I couldn’t believe it! My very own Bionic Woman action figure. She had a hole in her ear that indicated “supersonic” hearing and when you turned her head you could hear little clicks that were meant to sound the way it did on the show. She even had panels on her arms and legs exposing the wiring, proving her bionic powers. But equally as memorable as that doll, was my dad’s response to strangers giving toys to his children. Even in all the excitement, I remember my dad, quickly disappearing from the scene. He had slipped off into a back bedroom until everyone had left. What was it that made him leave such a joyous celebration? I understand now it was embarrassment and shame. Complete strangers were giving presents to his children that he felt was ultimately his responsibility.
When we decided to shift from indiscriminate giving to a Christmas Market at Watered Gardens I really wasn’t sure how well it would go over as there are so many ways to get toys for children at Christmastime in our community. But the response has been a beautiful thing to witness. Last year a woman said she learned of the opportunity on the news and was so thankful she caught the news segment. “My kids wouldn’t have had Christmas this year so I’m SO glad I saw this on the news! This is great!” I had another conversation with a grandmother who had contracted Covid. She said due to being ill she had no way of doing anything for her grandkids but this gave her an opportunity to provide gifts for them. “I think this is so wonderful. I can pick out things I think they will like and this is coming from me.” She hugged and thanked me. Another woman, who had never been to the mission before said she was a little apprehensive and unsure about “how it worked” and what she would be doing. But after working and coming back from the Worth Shop she was at ease, smiling and told me that “it was fun” and that she really enjoyed her time there. There are people who say they look forward to it, every year. Again, there really is no way to overemphasize that every, single exchange has been positive.
I don’t discount the hearts of those strangers that came bearing gifts all those years ago but I can never discount the impact it had on the heart of my dad, either. Giving to a child and retaining dignity for a parent; I’m thrilled that we are providing a way to do both.
Because of His lavish grace,
Watered Gardens Ministries
We’re accepting new Christmas gift donations of any kind—toys, clothing, stocking stuffers, etc.—but you’re welcome to contact Laurie Tandy to find out which items are most needed. Please call 417-623-6030 ext. 116.
The best drop-off times are 9a-2p, M, T, Th, or F.
To volunteer, please fill out our volunteer form by clicking here.
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