Christian Ministry Recovers from Fire to Spread Holiday Cheer

Monday, December 13th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Christmas ministry recovered from a holiday fire to help even more families. Last year, the Baptist "Jesus Christmas Room" burned in west Tulsa. Distribution of gift items started Monday at a new location, but with the same holiday spirit.

The fellowship hall of Riverside Baptist Church is filled with enough toys for more than 350 children. The Baptist Jesus Christmas room is a holiday ministry that supplies toys and clothes to poor families. Donna Hernandez is shopping for her family. While her two boys are being entertained in front of a television, she's busy checking off items on their Christmas lists.

Tulsa Baptist churches donate the gift items. The items are given away to qualified families the week before Christmas. “They wanted a bike for Christmas and I got it for them,” said Hernandez. Last year, the Christmas room burned just before distribution began.
Publicity about the fire led to a surge of donations and the Baptists ended up with more gift items than they had before the fire.

Most of what the “Jesus Christmas Time” room received last year was distributed. This year, church officials hope to help more children like the three grandchildren of Darnie Pope. "I wouldn't be here if I could provide otherwise,” Pope explained. “I'm a senior citizen trying to raise grandchildren." Pope and her son are shopping for items they say they wouldn't be able to afford otherwise, things that will make up the majority of their Christmas gifts. "I was able to get each of them an outfit of clothing and some toys,” Pope said. “Some of the items they would not expect to receive."

Wanda Satrom of the Woodland Acres Baptist Church says each qualified family can pick out a large toy and a small toy for each child in the family. Patrons also receive a set of clothing and underwear for each child. The shoppers at the Christmas room pay nothing for the items, and the organizers hope they leave with more than just gifts. "We like to think that we provide a witness here when we do this,” said Satrom. “We want people to know that Christmas is about love. It's all about Jesus’ love. That's why we call it the Jesus Christmas Room."

After last year’s fire, the Christmas room was moved and expanded to help more families. More than 150 families will have a brighter Christmas this year because of their help.