The space under Christmas trees will be a little less bare Christmas morning thanks to a local Hoboken church that organized a present drive for those in need last week.
Hoboken Grace, a non-denominational community church, hosted its sixth annual Hoboken Christmas Exchange, bringing presents to hundreds of local families.
This year, more than 1,075 children from 334 families received gifts, including toys, clothing, and books.
Gift donations came in from 425 people. Nearly 200 volunteers helped coordinate the event.
“I am overwhelmed by the generosity and willingness to give, especially with this year’s unprecedented hardships and health concerns,” said Hoboken resident Tina, a mother of a gift recipient. “I want to thank all of the Hoboken Christmas Gift Exchange donors and volunteers for their selflessness and thoughtfulness, and may God watch over you and your families to keep you safe!”
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a range of health precautions were implemented to ensure the use of PPE as well as appropriate social distancing.
A challenging year
The Hoboken Christmas Exchange was born out of the idea that no child should go without a Christmas gift.
“It was a long and difficult year for many families,” said Hoboken Grace’s Community Impact Director James Sproule. “As a community church, we hear directly from those who walk through our doors about the challenges they are experiencing.”
Due to the pandemic, Sproule said this year the gift exchange was even more important.
“Stress was intensifying as 2020 continued, so we committed to expanding our on-the-ground impact because of the difficult economic conditions. It was especially important this Christmas,” he said.
To identify families most in need, Hoboken Grace partnered with organizations throughout Hudson County, including the Hoboken Housing Authority, HOPES CAP, The Jubilee Center, TRUE Mentors, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hudson County, In Jesus Name Charities, and the Hoboken Police Department.
“Running from your bedroom to the Christmas tree is one of those memories that I think many of us cherish as we look back at our childhood,” said the HHA’s Resident Services Coordinator Danny Perez. “We can’t just stand by and hope that other children have that experience too. It takes action, and so we are proud to partner with Hoboken Grace to make Christmas special for these families in our community.”
“We don’t just live here, we love here,” said Chris High, lead pastor at Hoboken Grace. “Whether it’s financial, spiritual, emotional or mental help, we are always going to do everything we can to provide support. The Hoboken Christmas Exchange is one big piece of that, and we can’t wait to see how God guides this event, our community and our church moving forward.”
To learn more about Hoboken Grace and upcoming services both online and in-person visit www.hobokengrace.com.