Beyond the boundaries

A loose coalition of Charlotte churches and ministries has been crossing racial and city divides to quietly serve needy families

A loose coalition of Charlotte churches and ministries has been crossing racial and city boundaries to quietly serve needy Charlotte residents by doing what each group does best.

For the mostly white congregations, that often means providing resources and volunteers. The largely black ministries bring their community reach and relationships with those in need.

“Everybody wants to do something, but they don’t always connect with the people on the ground who are already there working,” said Colin Pinkney, executive director of Urban Restoration at Remount and Wilkinson Boulevard. “These churches resource us with the things we can use to reach out to the community.”

The coalition includes Urban Restoration, NeXus church and Christ Resurrection Church — whose members and clients are mostly black—along with Warehouse 242 church, Forest Hill Church and Watershed church — whose members are mostly white.

While other churches and ministries have similar partnerships, the number served by this coalition has been growing by the thousands.

Their most recent collaboration was a three-day Christmas Village Toy Store held at Warehouse 242’s location on Wilkinson Boulevard. The event, which ended Dec. 20, sold more than 8,000 toys and gifts to poor families at a fraction of the estimated $150,000 cost. More than 300 people volunteered from the various congregations.

Proceeds from the sales will help provide scholarships for students who attend the A Better World Afterschool program, a ministry of Christ Resurrection Church on Freedom Drive.

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“Our goal (was) to provide a dignified alternative to families who want to give their kids gifts for Christmas,” said Bruce Marcey, lead pastor at Warehouse 242 church. “We want to give them a hand up, especially in light of recent economic hard times.”

One father, who asked not to be identified, said the Christmas Village was a “ram in the bush” because he only had $50. He had been driving around seeking help when someone gave him a ticket to the Christmas Village Toy Store.

Pinkney, of Urban Restoration, said one of the hallmarks of working with Warehouse 242 is “you won’t find them doing anything in the community without a partnership with one of us.”

Jennifer Wallin, spokeswoman for Warehouse 242, said each ministry involved in the toy shop played to its strengths to provide volunteers, collect toys or pass out admission tickets to needy families. She said the group already is thinking about next year and is directing people to a website at www.charlottechristmasstore.com.

“It’s a blessing to be able to show people that we care,” said Wallin. “We want to love them all where they’re at.”

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