Given the heightened challenges faced with the onset of the pandemic, Sylvan Lake’s Alliance Community Church members are working tirelessly to ensure local non-profit organizations receive the input they require to support a thriving community.
During this holiday season, the church is fundraising for three local organizations with the hope that every local family has access to a warm meal and presents to open on Christmas.
Director of operation Marlis Hansen said, “The church is called to be the hands and feet of Christ all year long, and Christmas is such a great opportunity to do that in a big way because for the Christian church that is when Christ came to Earth as a baby, as a saviour for all. It’s just a greater opportunity for the church to show the love of Christ to our community and we are always looking for ways that we can come alongside Sylvan Lakers and help with whatever is currently the struggle in someone’s life.”
The church is fundraising in support of the Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau, Sylvan Lake Food Bank, and Red Deer’s The Mustard Seed.
“Three years ago the church was looking for ways that it could reach out further into the community at Christmas time. And of course, we have our Christmas Bureau here that already has been up and going and helping the community for many years, so we thought it would be most effective if we just came alongside and partnered with them.
“What we have done for the last few years is we act as a collection point with our congregation or whoever else in the community would like to donate. We have a list of things that are in need every year, like diapers, wipes, and this year wrapping paper and bows and that sort of thing,” said Hansen.
The church begins with sponsoring five families assigned to them by the Christmas Bureau and continues to support more families as they complete the wish list for previous ones. Hansen said they try to help with the shopping lists as much as possible.
“We start off the year with a list of five families. We just know their ages and number of family members. So, then people in the congregation, sometimes it’s a small group, a bible study let’s say, takes one of the families, or one of our families takes a family and they go shopping. There are suggestions on the shopping list from the Christmas Bureau and they buy gifts for that family,” said Hansen, adding, “We know very little about the families. We don’t want people to feel that their personal information is being shared. All we know is ages, number of people in the family, genders, and the suggested shopping list.”
Red Deer’s Mustard Seed organization that offers a similar community support program is a second organization the church is fundraising for that supports the local population facing homelessness and provides lunches to schools in Sylvan Lake.
“They actually are very involved in Sylvan Lake. Mustard Seed provides lunches to schools here in Sylvan Lake and also some of the folks that are struggling from homelessness in Sylvan Lake benefit from their services. We also have a drop-off available for Mustard Seed. We have a list of things that people can donate. The most popular things are socks, mitts, gloves, hats, toques, that sort of thing at this time of the year.
The church’s Kids Ministry is also conducting a Food Bank Drive in support of the Sylvan Lake Food Bank. Young church members between Grades 3 and 6 are competing to collect the greatest number of food donations possible.
Donations can be dropped off at the church during their business hours. A list of items to be donated and further information regarding different programs can be found on the Alliance Community Church Facebook page.
Hansen welcomes Sylvan Lakers to their Christmas Eve service scheduled for 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, attendees are asked to visit the church website at www.alliancecommunity.ca and sign-up for the service prior to attending.