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    Assistant Director, Youth/Families
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    Youth & Families Intern
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    Youth/Children
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    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
  • Niña Banta Cash
    Director, Children's Ministry
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    Assistant Director, Children's Ministry
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    Director, Community Development
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    Director, Facilities/Finance
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The Dangerous Act of Giving


I can hardly believe this is Southwood’s seventh year to collect toys for Santa’s Secret Shop. As part of Second Mile’s Pride for Parents, Santa’s Secret Shop gives parents the chance to purchase new toys at reduced prices. Parents can even volunteer and earn store credit for gifts. As parents chose and pay for presents themselves, they are empowered to provide for their children and receive encouragement working alongside others. 

Southwood partners very intentionally with Santa’s Secret Shop because it offers a better way to love our neighbors. Poverty is much more than the lack of material possessions; it is rooted in broken relationships between God, ourselves, one another and the rest of creation. In order to truly love our neighbors in material poverty, we seek to bring healing in those deeper relationships rather than simply providing material bandaids. Children in poverty need parents empowered to provide for them more than they need the latest toy. Their parents need supportive community that affirms their dignity and communicates God’s love for them in Christ more than they need cheap toys. We believe Santa’s Secret Shop loves parents and their children well by addressing these deeper needs. 

Second Mile not only addresses the deeper, individual needs of our neighbors, but it also protects both our neighbors and Southwood members from the hazards of “giving.” When a materially wealthy individual gives directly to a “needy person,” it tends to exacerbate the poverty of being for both. One-way giving of this kind reinforces the materially poor person’s belief that they are inferior and incapable; it also reinforces the wealthy person’s belief that they are self-sufficient and better than their poor neighbor. Santa’s Secret Shop offers another option - one in which both persons are reminded of their biblical identity. Those receiving gifts contribute meaningfully in ways that affirm their dignity and capability as image bearers of God. Those giving gifts have the opportunity to come alongside our neighbors in providing gifts for their families, rather than being the benevolent heroes. In this scenario both the “givers” and the “receivers” are part of the solution, breaking down the prideful assumptions that the “givers” have more to offer. Christ says that “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” So this Christmas let’s approach giving to our neighbors with great humility, because when we encounter “the least” we will encounter Him. 

Please bring your new, unwrapped toys to the Southwood sanctuary on November 12 or November 19. A list of requested items can be found on the back cover.