Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Urban Vision Christmas Store: Christmas with Dignity, Kids with a Future

'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Matthew 25:40

The annual Urban Vision (UV) Christmas Store event took place on December 15th. It was an opportunity for UV kids to spend the UV dollars they have earned during 2012 through successful participation in programs helping them in everything from improving their school grades to earning the right to become leaders at UV.
Urban Vision seeks to give North Akron kids a Christ-honoring alternative to life on the street. Currently, there are about 200 kids in various UV programs, and there is typically a waiting list of about 60 at-risk children hoping to be lifted up, challenged to personal growth, and rewarded for personal achievements. Urban Vision is reaching the community for Christ, one child and one family at a time.

UV’s programs, such as Set on Success, provide kids the chance to improve their grades in school through tutoring and mentoring. When the kids hit key goals, they are rewarded with UV dollars, a currency that they can save up and spend on Christmas gifts for their families. The kids also learn valuable life lessons, since the UV dollar incomes are taxed, saved in a UV bank, and budgeted against the child’s Christmas shopping list.
This year, a Christ Community Chapel Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC) men’s group decided to make their service project helping UV with the Christmas Store. The store project depends on UV staff and countless volunteers who set up a physical department store, complete with priced merchandise, sales clerks, customer shopping assistants, gift wrappers, inventory keepers and others who enable the kids to experience the real world process of earning money, budgeting for Christmas giving, buying the goods and giving them to loved ones. UV insists that providing the kids with “a hand up, not a hand out” is key to their catching a vision of a productive future for themselves, with Christ-honoring coaching and counseling along the way.

Christmas Store volunteers arrived at Urban Vision around 7:00 AM on December 15th, and were treated to a light breakfast, a time of worship, some training and guidance encouraging them to think of the kids as their own, since they belong to our God. Gifts available for the kids to purchase ranged from snow scrapers to bicycles and televisions. It was amazing to see these inner city young people comparison shopping, weighing the merits of different items, making selections, paying money from their UV “wallets”, collecting change, and moving among the various departments. The UV Store included departments for toddlers, kids, men and women, with merchandise from deodorant to overcoats. The store alone, with its logistical requirements, is a huge testimony to the love and dedication of the UV staff and volunteers.

Christ is clearly doing a great work in preparing the Urban Vision kids for adulthood. While UV did not encourage discounting (why devalue the rewards for their achievement?), the sales people had a great time explaining the value of items at different price points. The kids spent their money very wisely, with a great sense of Christmas cheer, amazing energy and good humor.  
As is the case so often, the CLC group members came to be a blessing to others in the name of Christ.  However, the men also were greatly blessed by seeing the fruit of the Spirit in these amazing young UV shoppers.  Urban Vision is indeed reaching North Akron for Christ, one child and family at a time.
 You may wish to learn more about the UV Christmas Store as a possible opportunity to serve in the name of Christ next year.  If so, please go to their website at:
You may also want to prayerfully consider the current opportunity to help Urban Vision in its $70,000 December Match Challenge.  This initiative is designed to help UV pay for staffing and materials for its operating needs in 2013. For more information about Urban Vision, please contact:
Barbara Ammirati @
Michael Ammirati @

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You've Been Gifted 2.0

 Christ Community Chapel kicked off a new tradition in 2012 with "You’ve Been Gifted 2.0".  On December 2nd, at each campus, before and after all services, there were opportunities to purchase Christmas gifts ranging from $3 to $25.  The meaning behind "2.0" is that the purchase of these gifts will be a double blessing. The first blessing is obviously the recipient of the gift;   the second blessing is that  a CCC ministry partner will receive 100% of the proceeds of the sale.

 Local Outreach partner Rahab Ministries offered T shirts for sale. The sales of  matted Bible word art will benefit Faithful Servants and Broken Chains.  Global Outreach partners like Sam Tushabe’s Action for Empowerment (AOET) and Destiny Rescue offered jewelry items. There were Christmas cards from India Gospel League.

The response of CCC worship service attenders was overwhelming, with almost all inventory at all campuses being sold out. Overall, more than 1,600 items were purchased, generating over $17,000 in funds for CCC ministry partners.

God’s family at Christ Community Chapel has once again shown its heart for the less fortunate, be it to benefit local neighbors in need served by health care volunteers at Faithful Servants, or to benefit women in Asia being rescued by Destiny Rescue from the entrapment of human trafficking. It is truly exciting to see God’s people move with such grace, power and generosity… especially to break the mold of the usual “retail Christmas” and to benefit the needy and our ministry partners at home and overseas. The Gospel is being driven down further into the lives of God’s family, with great impact for our neighbors from Akron to Asia.

To God be the glory!

 As we celebrate the generous response to “You’ve Been Gifted 2.0”, please keep in mind the ongoing opportunity for CCC members and attenders to impact Northeastern Ohio through the original You’ve Been Gifted program, in progress now!  As we seek to reflect God’s love expressed through the gift of His only begotten Son by blanketing the area with 10,000 random acts of kindness this Christmas season, please prayerfully consider how God may be calling you to creatively be a blessing to a neighbor.  For more information, please contact:

Barbara Ammirati @
Michael Ammirati @