During their Sunday service, volunteers at United Believers Community Church generously donated over 100 presents to children who have been impacted by violence in the Kansas City metro area.
The church has been hosting the event for several years, but according to Pastor Darron Edwards, this year’s event was the largest one yet. Edwards extended an invitation to approximately 300 children who have been impacted by violence within a 20-mile radius of the church. One family, Edwards shared, even traveled for about an hour from Knob Noster just to attend the service.
Over 130 generous donations filled the space beneath four beautifully decorated Christmas trees. A team of dedicated volunteers, affectionately referred to as “elves,” assisted the children in selecting as many presents as their hearts desired. This heartwarming event took place after Edwards’ inspiring sermon, accompanied by soulful performances from talented singers within the church.
Meisha McGowan, a church member and mother of four kids ranging from 11 months to 9 years old, expressed her joy and gratitude for the event. She mentioned that her children were delighted with the gifts they received and she appreciated the opportunity to provide presents for all of them.
McGowan expressed her excitement, emphasizing that for her, the experience is not just thrilling but also a blessing. As a mother of four, she appreciates the opportunity to participate in such activities despite the challenges that come with raising a family. McGowan acknowledges that managing finances can be tough, but she finds joy and gratitude in the small moments that make a difference.
She expressed, “I find contentment in their happiness.”
Edwards also emphasized the need to address the pressing issue of gun violence in the Kansas City area. The statistics provided by The Star reveal a staggering number of 179 homicides reported this year, including fatal police shootings.
2021 has already exceeded 2022 as the second deadliest year ever recorded in the city and is approaching the total of 182, the highest number of fatalities recorded in a year, which occurred in 2020.
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves emphasizes the importance of every community member being concerned about the killings in the city, regardless of their location. She, along with other police officers, urges community members to address issues and conflicts in a peaceful manner, discouraging the use of violence.
According to Graves, reducing violent crime in Kansas City will require the collective effort of the entire community. Each individual must play their part in this endeavor.
Graves emphasized the importance of spreading that message to various locations, including homes, businesses, and houses of worship.
Edwards emphasized the significance of having Graves and other police officers and city officials in attendance to strengthen the bond of trust between law enforcement and the community. By having them present at the event, community members were able to witness the close relationship their pastor shares with these officials and had the opportunity to meet them in a relaxed and informal setting.
According to him, it’s not just about seeing Chief Graves or Mayor Pro Tem Ryana Parks-Shaw, but getting to know them as individuals. They are people who live in the same communities as us and face the same challenges with crime.
He emphasized the importance of establishing these relationships in order to effectively reduce the number of homicides and other violent crimes in the city.