Youth group collects toys

Pastor McCalter Jackson of Christian Freedom Ministries in the Cove Terrace Shopping Center accepts a donation from Carla Harwell of Copperas Cove as part of the “Stuff the Van” toy drive.

Several children will have a brighter Christmas this year thanks to a group of giving teenagers.

Holding poster boards with the words “toy drive” scrawled on them and yelling to announce the event, the youth group of Christian Freedom Ministries filled a van with toys to brighten Christmas for those in need.

Eva James, the church youth director who started the ministry last year, said she challenged the youths to create a worthwhile endeavor for the holidays.

“I let them take charge and this is what they came up with,” James said. “It was their decision and their project to run.”

The church youth group has 25 active teens, James said, adding it is important to teach youths Christian values at an early age and to teach them to give back and be grateful for their blessings.

Carla Harwell of Copperas Cove was one of many who stopped their cars to hand shopping bags full of toys out the window to ready hands.

“I saw (the youth) here asking for toys. So, I went to Walmart and picked some up,” Harwell said. “It’s the spirit of the season. All of my daughters are grown up and moved away. Plus, I wanted to help someone else.”

Pastor McCalter Jackson was proud of the youths for conducting the project.

“So many families cannot afford toys and this is a way for us to donate and give children the Christmas they would not otherwise have,” Jackson said.

Demarkus White, 18, was one of a dozen youth volunteers collecting the toys and filling the church van.

He gave up a sunny afternoon of playing ball to help with the event.

“We are a huge family and this is what God put us on this earth to do — to take care of one another,” White said. “So, I am doing what he wants me to do.”

James said the toys will be divided among several charities including Blue Santa, Cove House, the Head Start program, Angel Tree, and selected church families.

The church also conduct an annual fundraising project, Change 4-A Change, where it collects coins throughout the year to purchase additional toys and other items for families for Christmas.

Christian Freedom Ministries is part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries and holds Sunday services at 11 a.m. at 340A Cove Terrace Shopping Center, Copperas Cove.

Contact Wendy Sledd at or (254) 501-7476

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