Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
Whether green and yellow or red and gold, CUPS’ Christmas baskets are a ‘grand’ endeavor. By Carol Stubbs
|Photo by Robin May|
Busy elves in the CUPS Santa-like workshop are putting in overtime to make 1,000 Christmas baskets — double last year’s count. The CUPS (Communities Uniting in Prayer and Service) mission is to “experience God’s abundance through both giving and receiving.” The baskets, filled with recycled gift items collected throughout the year, are a creative extension of the mission.
CUPS began in 2005 to help meet the immense need following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The organization has continued giving to the community, bringing together faith and practicality and encouraging sharing our abundance. “We believe God has provided enough. And that when we all share the abundance we find in our lives, there is enough [usually more than enough] for everyone,” says Leigh Petersen, director and founder.
The Christmas basket project provides gifts for those in need with distribution handled through community agencies. Baskets are made for all ages, from infant to adult, male and female. Volunteers from area churches help fill baskets at scheduled times throughout the year.
In the workshop, baskets are created from items like Christmas trays and tins, handbags, backpacks, totes and large toys. Volunteer elves fill them with an assortment of gift items arranged around a color or theme. Donated items are neatly stored on shelves in labeled containers. There are boxes of cosmetic bags, ties, rolled blankets, baby lotion, stuffed animals, small games, Christmas pot holders and dish towels, interesting books and videos for all ages, hand-knit scarves and hats and lots of toys. Everything is washed and repaired before being used. Each basket is surrounded by clear wrapping and tied with ribbon to coordinate with the colors of the contents.
Head elf Sue Steck-Turner of First Presbyterian Church says it’s an amazing project that utilizes the imagination and creativity of many individuals. “It’s unbelievable that in five years this project has evolved from 100 baskets made in a bedroom in my home into a ministry involving almost 100 volunteers and donors creating 1,000 baskets,” she says. “It is a most rewarding endeavor.”
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