It’s time to think about our Christmas plans this year!
At Mika that means we are thinking about The Christmas Store. We have much to celebrate over the last 10 years – hundreds in our community have shopped, served, donated, and volunteered to make the Christmas Store happen year after year.
As you know, core to Mika’s work is listening to our community. The Christmas Store developed out of hearing our neighbors’ desire for dignity over charity. We continue to create regular space to reflect, evaluate, and dream together with our neighborhood leaders. Recently, we gathered with these leaders to consider The Christmas Store: how it aligns with our mission, with our values, and how it addresses the greatest needs in our community. As we considered together the question, “what do people need during the holidays?” our neighbors shared that the greatest needs were not the traditional presents we have been offering in our store.
The things that kept coming up were food, basic needs, and community.
This created space to re-imagine what we could do this Christmas to meet these needs, offer opportunities to give, and create space for relationships to be built. In light of that, we will not be hosting the Christmas Store this year and are excited to share our plan with you.
Gift Cards - The Best Gifts This Year:
Like many of us, our neighbors are trying to make ends meet. Gift cards are a way to equip them to do that, whether the most urgent need is groceries or household items. So this year we are asking our partners to purchase gift cards instead of gifts. The four places our leaders felt would be most useful are Smart & Final, The Grocery Store Outlet, Target, and Stater Bros. The gift cards will be disbursed through our neighborhood leaders who have been the ones identifying the families with the greatest needs each year. Equipping them with the gift cards allows them to connect with and offer support to their neighbors during a difficult time. If you or your church is interested in purchasing gift cards, click here for more information.
Community- Being Together is the Gift:
The holidays are often filled with great joy and great pain. It can bring people together but also make us aware of those we’ve lost or are away from. The Christmas Store originally was a good way to connect for one day and now our community is articulating that they want more opportunities for deeper connection, especially with those they might not otherwise know. That means they want to know you.
To do this, we will connect people from Mika’s neighborhoods to those from other churches and partners to Share Your Tradition. We are asking families and individuals to make a commitment to share at least one holiday tradition with the other family. This can be a shared meal, a Christmas lights tour, going to each other’s Christmas parties, etc. This is different from a more traditional “adopt-a-family” where one family or person brings groceries or presents one time. Our desire is for mutual relationship that may or may not include exchange of items. The families and individuals from Mika will be our neighborhood leaders and those participating in Mika’s programs. If you’re interested in being connected with someone or have questions, please click here.
We realize that the commitment and focus may not be a fit for everyone. Consider other serve events through Trellis’ 25 Days of Christmas with opportunities to serve throughout December (Visit Trellis’ website in early November!). For example, many local churches are connected directly with their Trellis school partners to serve as classroom volunteers, to deepen school-to-family relationships, and build cross-cultural community. During December, many church-school partnerships will be hosting Christmas parties, where both church and school families of all ages can decorate ornaments and cookies, play group games, hear the Christmas story, and continue deepening their relationship.
Community- Celebrating Christmas Together:
Lastly, will have one big Mika Christmas party on Saturday, December 10th at The Crossing Church! Our desire is for everyone connected throughout our Mika community to gather and celebrate together. RSVP here and stay tuned for more details on the party!
The Christmas Store has become a tradition in Costa Mesa. As our neighborhood leaders have developed, how we support them has grown and developed as well. Their leadership is making a true impact and they are excited to create more opportunities for lasting connection. Yet with change always comes a sense of loss. We acknowledge this change will be disappointing to many. As a community, we celebrate what we have created together over the last 10 years, acknowledge the change, and look forward to deeper connections in store for us ahead. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email me!