Ed. Note: Thanks to reader and resident Erin Freeman for submitting this story.
For the past 16 years, the Coast Hills Church Community celebrated Christmas in the traditional way, with a popular Christmas Concert that drew thousands each year, as well as several outreach programs including an Adopt-a-Family gift drive and Mobile Food Pantry.
But this year, with so many people struggling due to the prolonged economic downturn, the church’s leadership decided to focus their efforts entirely on serving those in need in a meaningful way.
And the response was tremendous. On Saturday, Dec. 10, more than 1,000 registered guests were served a pancake breakfast by more than 700 volunteers, who also distributed more than 800 gifts and hundreds of bags of groceries.
“We were blown away by the response, not just from those who wanted to attend, but also by those who wanted to serve,” said Todd Gorton, Coast Hills Community Church’s communication and worship arts pastor.
“When we talked about changing our focus this year from the Christmas
Concert to serving others, the response was unanimous that this is what we needed to do.”
Of the 1,000 participants, around 200 were Marines and their families.
“This was a chance for us to serve those who serve us and our country. It was an honor for us to thank them for their service and let them know how much we appreciate what they do for our country,” said Gorton.
Guests arrived in waves, with about 250 in each wave to avoid over-crowding and ease of movement throughout the day. Each guest began the program with a pancake and sausage breakfast with live holiday music and introductions from pastors Ken Baugh and Ryan Daffron.
Guests moved through the cookie and ornament decorating stations and gift and grocery distribution areas with ease, a testament to the team’s thoughtful planning and attention to detail.
“I’m so proud of our team and our volunteers. This was a meaningful and memorable day for all of us,” said Gorton.