Grand Rapids ministry prepares for free Christmas event

Posted at 9:39 PM, Dec 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-13 22:33:32-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A group in Grand Rapids is doing their part to make sure every kid has presents for Christmas. Urban Family Ministries on the southeast side of Grand Rapids is hosting an event Dec. 18 with free toys for kids and a free meal for everyone.

The ministry has been hosting this event for years, and every year it's grown bigger and bigger. They also have a Christmas shop with almost everything a kid could want for the holidays. It's something one organizer says would've meant a lot to him when he was growing up.

"You name it, it's here," said Elijah Libbett, executive team member.

Libbett says their pop up Christmas shop is open now through Friday, Dec. 15.

"We allow people to come in to shop and everything is at least 85 percent off," said Libbett. "It gives them a chance to come in and shop for their family."

There's something to be said about letting the people buy the presents themselves.

"It gives them a sense of ownership," said Libbett. "It's like they did it for their family."

On Dec. 18 from 4 to 7 p.m. they'll be hosting a free Christmas event complete with presents for kids, door prizes, pictures with Santa Claus and a hot meal.

"If I'm in a position to give, why not?" said Libbett.

Last year, the ministry gave away more than 640 presents and 1,600 hot meals. It's something Libbett says he didn't have as a child.

"I remember growing up and we didn't have any gifts for Christmas," said Libbett. "I know how it feels not to be able to receive something. It broke my heart."

Libbett says some of the gifts that have been collected have disappeared recently.

"Last night I sat down and realized some of the gifts were missing," said Libbett. "I guess somebody came in while I was in the kitchen and took some gifts out of there. I hope they give them to their kids and their kids have a Merry Christmas."

Libbett says he's not letting that stop them from making a difference in the community where he was raised.

"I was given a second chance at life, so I have to give back," said Libbett. "If you get a second chance it's not good unless you share it."

Urban Family Ministries is located at 543 Eastern Ave. SE in Grand Rapids.