BUIES CREEK -- Sixty-three families and 159 children in Harnett County will have a happier Christmas thanks to Campbell University's first Christmas Store.
The store, which came and went last week at Carter Gym, was created to help families struggling this holiday season to make ends meet.
More than 180 Campbell faculty, staff and students volunteered to help make it happen, according to Campus Minister Faithe Beam and Ministry Associate Terry Tucker, who organized what they hope will become an annual event.
"It's an opportunity for all of us to serve and connect with Harnett County," Beam said. "I've learned that wherever God plants you, it's your responsibility to be involved in that community."
The families chosen to participate we're referred to the Store by county agencies and churches. These organizations worked with the families throughout the year and were able to help assess their needs. The toys and gifts were donated by Campbell faculty, staff and students, as well as churches and local businesses, and totaled $8,500, according to Tucker.
"Those families expressed their gratitude, and they were very humbled," Tucker said. "Inside the gym, we offered appointments for pastoral care, and they shared their other needs with us."
Tucker said many of the families were grandparents raising their grandchildren, and in one case, a couple was raising their great-grandchildren, four of them ranging from infant to 6.
Both Tucker and Beam had been involved with Christmas stores in the past, and Campbell's was planned by a team of 14. The families started registering for it as far back as September.
"There's a Biblical mandate to help your fellow man," Beam said. "I think of the story of the broken man sitting at the roadside who was passed over by many until the good Samaritan stopped to make sure he was cared for. It's time for us to go and do likewise."
Campbell University has challenged its students and staff to accumulate 125,000 volunteer hours this year in recognition of the University's 125th anniversary. To learn more, visit Campbell's alumni and friends page at alumni.campbell.edu.