“An Experience I’ll Never Forget”

When Kara volunteered at the Hoboken Christmas Exchange last year, she wasn’t sure what to expect. It was her first time participating in any of the events at Hoboken Grace. Having volunteered with other organizations throughout the years, Kara assumed she’d simply be handing out gifts to families in need, passing out cocoa and lining kids up for photos with Santa. Little did she know, God would use this event to work in her heart and show her the true meaning of Christ-like service.

Throughout the evening, Kara saw so many faces light up when they received their gifts. But it wasn’t until she saw families taking Hoboken Grace ornaments and inquiring about service times that she realized God was doing something much bigger. Like most of us, Kara had focused on how volunteering made her feel and what she got out of it; God used the Christmas Exchange to take her perceptions of service and spin them on their head. As the event progressed, she realized that serving like Christ isn’t about what we get out of it — it’s about modeling Jesus to others and showing His love for them. And while Kara saw those participating in the event model true service and love, she also saw those serving and those attending draw closer to Him.

At some point that night, Kara met Sarah, the Director of Growth and Assimilation at Hoboken Grace, who noticed Kara’s heart for people and her ability to keep the event organized and on track. Prior to attending the Christmas Exchange, Kara had begun to consider serving on an impact team but had no idea where to start or where her talents would best be used. At the end of the night, Kara was surprised to hear Sarah invite her to dinner to talk more about joining the Family Life Team.

“While I had wanted to inquire more about serving on a team, I was afraid,” Kara said. “Here I was, nervous about figuring out how to join a team, and God put Sarah in my life at the right exact moment to give me the push I needed.”

A year later, Kara has seen so many individual lives changed through her role on the Family Life Team, which organizes events such as Amplify and Baby Dedication and all of Hoboken Grace’s growth classes. Meeting those attending “What is Baptism?” and then watching them be baptized and take the next step in their walk with Christ has allowed Kara to see, in a really personal way, how God is continuing to call others back to Him.

“My interaction with Sarah that night has very much impacted my life and my faith,” Kara said. “And seeing children beaming with excitement, cookies in hand, to parents tearing up as they collected their bags of gifts, made it an experience I’ll never forget.”

If you’ve ever wondered about serving but are not sure where to begin, why not use the Christmas Exchange as an opportunity to start your conversation with God? You might just find the encouragement you need by sharing the love of Christ with those who need it most during this holiday season.

To sign up for the Dec. 10 event or to adopt a child or family, visit hobokenchristmas.com.

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