Volunteers discover true meaning of Christmas

Churches across Snohomish County this holiday are delivering meals, building houses, collecting children’s books and helping struggling families.

And the volunteers are often finding their work just as gratifying as it is to those they serve.

“Their joy and gratefulness on the inside reminds me of what Christmas is about,” said Trudi Trueit, a member of Advent Lutheran Church in Mill Creek. “It’s what I’m called to do as a Christian.”

Members of the Community Christian Fellowship in Edmonds collected gift cards for women staying at Vision House, a transitional housing and support resource for homeless mothers and their children. Through another partnership, church volunteers gathered more than 200 children’s books for the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle.

“There’s an opportunity for us to move into people’s lives with a sense of hope,” said senior pastor Brian Boone.

Internally, the congregation is helping 11 families within the church who are battling joblessness and cancer.

“Any time you give back, you are forced to look at what you have,” said pastor Don Ross of Creekside Church in Mountlake Terrace.

Ross’ church took a philanthropic shift after it embarked on an $8 million construction project to move its 175-person congregation into an improved building.

“We felt God gave us a new house, so this Christmas we are giving two houses away,” he said.

Creekside is sending 15 people to Honduras to help build a house through a partnership with a nonprofit group that provides housing for the working poor. Locally, the church is providing clothes and Christmas presents to a family whose home was damaged by smoke from a neighboring house fire.

Advent Lutheran Church recently held its annual holiday food basket program. American Red Cross officials identified 200 families in need throughout Snohomish County, including Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. From there, 150 church volunteers packed 20 to 30 items into bags per family.

Trueit, the church volunteer, recalled delivering bags of groceries to an elderly woman who used an oxygen mask and lived in a sparsely decorated apartment with a small Christmas tree.

The woman invited Trueit and the other volunteers into her home. She was upbeat and positive when she had reason to act the opposite, Trueit said.

The woman thanked the volunteers and said because of them, she would have a Christmas dinner for the first time in years, which she planned to prepare and share with her friends.

“I left in tears,” Trueit said.

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