This year, Desert Foothills United Methodist Church collected 374 bags from Trader Joe�s filled with clothes, toys and treats to be delivered to four churches in Mexico on Dec. 23 for newborns and children up to 16 years old.

Submitted photo

For the 12th year Desert Foothills United Methodist Church has donated more than 300 gifts to a sister church in Mexico for children on Christmas.

Leaders of the project began organizing the event in September, partnering with five other Arizona Methodist churches to put together gifts for children at several poor Mexican churches. On Dec. 5 volunteers from Desert Foothills United Methodist delivered the 336 gifts to Mexico. On Dec. 21 youth from Ahwatukee Foothills traveled across the border to help plan their annual Christmas party and help pass out the gifts to the children.

Jane Peterson with Desert Foothills United Methodist Church has been organizing this project annually since 2001. It all began when their sister church asked for help with their Christmas party and Desert Foothills volunteers offered to bring each child a shoebox of gifts.

Now, several other Valley Methodist churches have joined the cause and the church in Mexico, Fuente de Vida, has also grown. Each year the children are given a personalized Trader Joe’s bag filled with a new jacket or sweater; snacks and food; candy and a toy of some kind. Gifts are given to all children under the age of 16.

Last year was the first year local youth were able to be present while the gifts were being handed out. Peterson said they’re excited to do it again.

“They thought it was awesome and so did the youth of the main church in Mexico,” she said. “They really made contact with the kids there. There wasn’t a cultural barrier, even though they didn’t understand each other sometimes. I’ve seen the party myself a few times and I always leave feeling like I am the one that’s blessed.”

Over the years the project has spread to more churches in Mexico, but the need has always been met.

“There are good people everywhere and many people don’t have very much,” Peterson said. “We need to take every opportunity to help them out wherever we can with whatever they need. In this case, that was children needing Christmas gifts.”

Each year the church is given a specific list of children to shop for and individuals at the church purchase the gifts. To adopt a child in the future or learn more about the project, call Desert Foothills United Methodist at (480) 460-1025 and ask for Jane.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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