Christmas Teams

Every winter, as the Christmas season looms closer, children around the world write letters to their culture’s adaptation of Santa Claus. Russian children are no different, sending missives to Father Christmas with lists of dreams and desires they hope will come true. But not the children at Orphanage #1 in Samara…they have no need to implore Father Christmas for presents. Their greatest gift comes each January in the form of a Volunteers in Mission (VIM) team from the West Ohio Conference. Part of the money raised by the VIM team is used to take each of the 128 children shopping for a new sweater and pair of shoes. But the real gift is that of time…time the VIM teams spend playing games, throwing snowballs, and eating together with the children. The stigma of “orphan” begins to dissipate, and each child receives the true gift of Christmas—the gift that says they matter. For the 128 children of Orphanage #1, Christmas arrives not on a reindeer-drawn sleigh from the North Pole, but on a 747 jumbo jet from the West Ohio Conference.