A Connecticut church is looking for help to make sure teens don't go without presents this Christmas.
Every year, around this time, there are toy drives for the littlest kids. His Divine Will Fellowship is trying to make sure that teenagers don’t get lost in the shuffle.
"I was just laying in my bed one night and it came to me,” Pastor Brenda Adkins with His Divine Will Fellowship said. “You should bless the older kids because they never get any gifts."
Adkins immediately started thinking about giving out gift cards.
"It’s going to give them independence,” Adkins said. “They can go get what they want."
Adkins said she and her husband John came up with a goal of giving out 300 gift cards this Christmas for local teenagers.
Adkins said she knows what it feels like firsthand.
"Being the oldest of 10 children, my mom was in poverty,” Adkins said. “So whatever she got, she had to always give to the younger kids and I remember waking up and not having gifts."
Inside their New Haven apartment, they've already received a couple of gift cards, along with a few Christmas cards and checks to go buy more.
For this New Haven couple, which has been involved in ministry for 28 years, this is nothing new. Just a few weeks ago, they put on their annual day of joy by feeding more than 800 people and teaming up with the Knights of Columbus to hand out coats for kids.
Now, the gift cards will allow the kids to pick out something they want.
"You're just an older child,” Adkins said. “But, you're still a child."
Whether it’s their pre-Thanksgiving feast, a back to school book bag drive or collecting sneakers and shoes for folks that need them, Pastor Adkins and her husband said a small gesture can make a big difference.
"When you see a teenager, 13, 14, 15 years old, and you give them a gift card, you're letting them know. This is for me? Yeah, this is for you,” Bishop John Adkins with His Divine Will Fellowship said. “They might buy a hat, a pair of pants, just letting them know someone cares about them. That's the biggest statement we all can send out."
"We're just people that care,” Brenda Adkins said. “If you can put one smile on one person's face, you have done your job."
Gift cards and cash donations to buy them can be sent to 330 Munson St., New Haven, CT 06511. Adkins can be reached at 203-802-0747. The deadline for donations is Dec. 20. John and Brenda Adkins will give out the gift cards along with a Christmas ham on Dec. 23rd.
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