Annual From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries Holiday Dinner held at Community Hall

The hardworking group of volunteers that made the event happen gather for a photo at the annual From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries Holiday Dinner Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Anza Community Hall. Diane Sieker photo

Anza’s From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries Holiday Dinner was held at the Community Hall Saturday, Nov. 11. The memorable evening included camaraderie, enticing food, fun, prizes and inspiration.

“From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries was started 12 years ago when founder Linda Hart wanted to do something in remembrance of her son who passed,” President Christi James said. “He loved children, so she thought that it would be a great idea to do something with kids in mind.”

The ministry raises funds to buy Christmas gifts, fill and give away backpacks to school children and assist those local children that may be disadvantaged.

“The first Christmas they had 13 children. The first backpack giveaway they gave six backpacks. Every year it got bigger.” James said. “We give out about 300 loaded backpacks now as well as a pair of shoes, a haircut, and this year we added socks. We are up to over 400 kids for Christmas.”

The ministry serves and focuses on families and children in need in the mountain communities of Anza, Aguanga, Mountain Center and Idyllwild.

Fundraising events are held throughout the year to help collect money to aid this cause, including rummage sales, luncheons, raffles and of course, the annual From the Heart’s holiday dinner.

The feast featured turkey, ham, green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pie and homemade cranberry sauce. Cheerful volunteers served it all up with smiles and laughter.

Christmas music filled the hall as people enjoyed their meal with lively conversations. Toward the end of the evening, Christi James, Jimmy Gillam, Becca James and Victoria Chacon raffled off prizes such as gift baskets, a TV, holiday-themed presents and more.

“Although we had the lowest attendance that we’ve ever had, we made more money than we ever have. I truly believe that it doesn’t matter who comes, as long as it’s the right people who come,” Christi James said. “We feel blessed beyond belief by our little town. Last year we had 438 children that received gifts through this program and we are more than likely going to have more this year.”

Many local churches have assisted with the dinner, past and present. Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church hosted the giveaway, and Valley Gospel Chapel, Anza Valley Christian, Calvary Chapel, Living Hope, Rancho Chapel and Emerging Love Fellowship also contributed to the success of the evening.

“Every year, we know that God has us covered, and He puts the right people in the right places so that this can happen,” James said.

Volunteers Wanda Crawford, Steve Crawford, Jacob Crawford, Marilyn Smith, Deborah Mike, Tammy Marana, Aurora Perez, Dawn Gillam, Jimmy Gillam, Hunter and Aiden Gillam, Maddie James, Becca James, Scott Schultz, John Youngs, Chaysen Babcock, Jenna Thillens, Amanda Gilmore, Victoria Chacon, Paola Canaday, Elizabeth Nagy and Betty Bales helped out planning, cooking, serving, cleaning and much more.

“We would like to thank every person who supported us in every way for our holiday dinner last night,” James said. “Because of you, we had our best night ever. For all of the time, dedication, donations and more that was given last night, we are grateful. For all who joined us for the dinner, thank you.”

To learn more about the From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/115200731856938/about/ or write to: From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries, P.O. Box 391224, Anza, CA 92539.

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