JOPLIN, Mo. — Christmas has come early for more than 1,800 southwest Missouri school children.
As part of its annual “Season of Giving” campaign, James River Church is spreading holiday cheer gifts to kids in Springfield and Joplin. The church has done this, now, for almost 25 years.
Students at West Central Elementary enjoyed the attention and gift bags, this morning — along with a visit from Santa. Schools are selected based on several factors — including the number of children enrolled in the free or reduced school lunch program.
“Our kids get to experience something, you know, they might not get to experience. I know James River does their Christmas Play every year, but not all our guests get to attend that, so this is kind of a mini version of that. They get to have a gift to take home and it’s just real fun experience for them,” said Bret Ingle, Principal, West Central Elementary School.
“We just want them to know that God loves them and we want to share that. That is the most important thing we want them to know through this entire event, is that God sees them and he loves them very much,” said Ashley Wilhite, Children’s Pastor, James River Church.
The church also did this for the kids at Columbia Elementary this afternoon. Those two schools, of course, will merge into the new Dover Hill Elementary in less than a month.