Unity Church brings Christmas to local family

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Members of Unity Church in Lanier County gather on steps
Unity Methodist Church members with the gifts they gathered for Christmas

The members of Unity United Methodist Church have decided to give to a local family for Christmas and beyond.

Sunday, members of the church delivered presents, groceries and a Christmas meal to a local grandmother and her six grandchildren. They have also decided to continue helping this family for the next year.

“This is about a relationship,” said pastor’s wife, Maggie Atwood. “We want to see how we can help throughout the year.”

The church has talked about renovations for the home of the grandmother.

Unity was introduced to this family around Thanksgiving. Lanier County Family Connection contacted them with a program that provided a Thanksgiving meal to local families.

“Family Connection has worked with this grandmother on several occasions with resources,” said Amy Lollis, Lanier County Family Connection coordinator. “I knew she would be an excellent fit for Unity. I contacted members of the church to find out if they were ok with helping a grandmother with nine grandchildren and they were all for it.”

The Lanier County Collaborative, according to Lollis, is much more focused on faith-based organizations now because of the endless supply of resources they have for these families—and not necessarily financial.

“Faith-based organizations can provide long lasting relationships that will educate families on how to survive future trials,” said Lollis. “They provide natural support groups needed to get through the hard times. The great part about Unity Church is they did not just drop off food. They visited with the family and developed a relationship, which is exactly what we want to see happen.”

The church raised enough money to provide $150 worth of food for the family with some left over. According to Pastor Tim Atwood and Maggie Atwood, they were able to also deliver the meal to the family. “It was a huge blessing to not only be able to give the meal but to meet the family,” said Atwood.

After returning from the delivery, Tim and Maggie wanted to do more for the family. “When we got back home, I couldn’t not do anything,” said Maggie.

Tim presented the possibility of adopting this family for the year to Unity the following Sunday and the church members agreed overwhelmingly.

“People have been coming to me left and right,” said Tim. “What do they need? How can I help?”

The church has provided Christmas dinner’s and presents for families in the past, but his is the first year they decided to adopt a family for an entire year.

“I want to give thanks to God, Pastor Tim and Maggie, and Unity Church,” said the grandmother. “When she mentioned adopting us as a family, I was never really offended, just surprised that they chose me. I’m just overwhelmed. This is new to me. It’s a blessing that someone can come along. That’s a miracle to me. I’m grateful.”

According to the Atwoods, the grandmother in the family has been giving back to the church. She helps Maggie with her ministry each week.

“She is one of those that really tries to help her family,” said Maggie. “She is always seeing a need and helping. She is inspiring me and she says I’m inspiring her.”

According to the Atwoods, when the grandmother was approached and asked if she would like the Christmas presents, she was hesitant and only asked for one present per child.

The Atwoods said the church is grateful to Family Connection for the opportunity to minister. “We had a lot of inspiration from her (Family Connection Coordinator Amy Lollis,),” said Maggie. “She connected us with the need.”

The Atwoods say that ministry starts with noticing a need and just trying to do something.

“Just start somewhere,” said Maggie. “Start noticing what’s around you and God does the rest. When you notice something and you want to do something, he will do the rest.

“The need is great so many people think ‘we can’t do anything,'” said Tim.” But if we all adopted just one family, think how different our community could be.”

This venture is a win-win-win for the family, for Unity, and for the Family Connection Collaborative.

“This experience has taught our team to never give up on what we think would work for our target area,” said Lollis. “This has been our vision for four years and now we are starting to see the fruits of our labor.”