District Christmas brunch generates generosity

The clergy and clergy families of the Northwest District gathered Saturday, Dec. 6 for their annual Christmas brunch, hosted this year by the United Methodist Women of First UMC Fort Smith.

Attendees brought canned goods to donate to a local food pantry, and Waldron UMC’s pantry was selected as the recipient. The Rev. Diane Miller was surprised and grateful for this gift to the ministry of the church she pastors.

The district made a donation to Imagine No Malaria in honor of all clergy, and also tried something new as a way to spread generosity: They held a drawing for Random Acts of Kindness gift cards. The district gave away nine $50 cards, asking that those who received the cards use them to perform a random act of kindness, and to share with the district office how they used their gift. At press time, the district had received reports on how three of the cards were used.

Two of the cards happened to go to two children of the Rev. Carl and Denni Palmer. Carl is associate pastor at Central UMC Fayetteville and Denni is the Christian education and spiritual formation coordinator at Mount Sequoyah Retreat Center.

The Palmer children—Gretchen, 14; Kirsten, 11; Katrina, 10; Teasha, 9; and Jason, 7—used Random Acts of Kindness gift cards they received at the Northwest District Christmas brunch to provide Christmas gifts for children in foster care. COURTESY PHOTO

The Palmer children—Gretchen, 14; Kirsten, 11; Katrina, 10; Teasha, 9; and Jason, 7—used Random Acts of Kindness gift cards they received at the Northwest District Christmas brunch to provide Christmas gifts for children in foster care.
COURTESY PHOTO

Here is their story, as told by their mom:

“The Palmer children have a tradition that every year they choose a child from the Teddy Bear Tree that helps children and youth who are in foster-care situations through Nothing in Return, a foster and adoptive support agency in Northwest Arkansas. With five kids, that means shopping for five children and teens. This year the plan was to go get the presents after the Northwest District Christmas Clergy Brunch. To our surprise, two of the girls won $50 gift cards and were challenged to do something good. They quickly decided to use them to stretch their shopping dollar and were able to buy clothes, toys and more for an additional three children. The extra $100 helped them bless eight instead of just five, and that is something they are very excited about!”

Deb Topham was another recipient of a Random Acts of Kindness gift card. Here is her story, shared by her husband, the Rev. Michael Topham, pastor of Cavanaugh and Hackett UMCs:

“Deb went to Walmart and purchased $50 worth of meats and will be taking it to the Community Clearinghouse with her gift card.

“Cavanaugh UMC collected over 40 bags of food for the Community Clearinghouse last month. Hackett UMC collected and took theirs to the Clearinghouse also. Both are bringing in canned goods each week for the Community Clearinghouse and have taken over two months’ worth each.”

—from the Dec. 11, 2014 edition of the e-newsletter “Around the Northwest District”