In early December 2011, Tanya Gigliotti, of Restoration Ministries Global, heard a couple of retail employees talking amongst themselves while she was shopping.
“They were talking about pretending Christmas wasn’t here,” she said, “and downplaying it to their kids. How can anyone do that?”
Hopefully, those employees heard about Restorations Ministries’ Big Give last year and were able to get their children the things they needed and perhaps wanted.
But if not, The Big Give 2012 has arrived, again, today, from 8 a.m. to noon at Expoland in Fishersville.
Like last year, said John Gigliotti, a group of 55 to 60 local churches and somewhere around 520 volunteers are preparing for those in need, especially those people who have fallen through the cracks, to visit and pickup new and used items such as clothing, bedding, toys — all free — plus refreshments while they wait to enter.
Like last year, Jordan Horst, 16, a junior at Stuarts Draft High School, will participate as a volunteer. Unlike 2011, this year she was selected to be the in-house coordinator for Cornerstone Church in Fishersville.
“I helped the last three years, but this is my first year being in charge, she said. “It’s been a little stressful but people have been generous with their time and donations.”
Horst started work in October gathering together donations from her church and volunteers who will help guide visitors around at the Expo event.
“We have about 30 to 40 volunteers,” the teen said. “It helps people have a better Christmas and I what I like most is that they get to hear the message of Jesus Christ, which is the most important gift.”
It is the third annual giveaway held at Expoland that was begun by Restoration Ministries, six years ago. When the program started, it was held at the old Faith Point Christian Center on Arch Avenue and 234 people were served.
But it outgrew the location. The second year ballooned to 1,000 people and in 2010, the first year at Expo, the number of people in need had mushroomed to 5,000. Final numbers for 2012 will be determined after supplies are doled out this year.
How volunteers keep coming up with enough items for everyone is a miracle.
“We pray for enough stuff for everyone, said Tanya.
It is something that the Gigliotti’s have been doing for 18 years when they moved to the area, said John.
“We feed more than a thousand people each month,” he said, “along with giving away furniture, helping people move and providing clothing.”
“My first year, I went with my parents who were volunteering,” Horst said. “I was very overwhelmed – there were hundreds of people in need. It was very rewarding and eye opening.”
Every person who attends The Big Give will receive one new holiday gift and then will be given a 30-gallon plastic bag to fill from another room of donated used items.
Children in attendance will be directed to a room full of toys to select a free gift.
Don’t worry about not being able to make it by 2 p.m. John said that if there is a line and items to give away, people will not be turned away.
“We wanted to give back to the community,” John said. “We’re doing it for the Lord.”
If anything remains after all have come and gone, it will be delivered to Fredericksburg, where another event is planned.
“There are just too many people who need help,” Tanya said. “Make sure that people know the event is today.”