For several years many church congregations, individuals, service organizations, and businesses in the Northern Lehigh area have joined to help make local children's holidays a bit brighter.

Annually the Northern Lehigh Pastoral Association in conjunction with the Northern Lehigh Food Bank sponsors a Children's Christmas Gift Program.

For the fourth year Friedens United Church of Christ is coordinating this project.

A committee comprised of Bonnie Gildner, food bank representative; Karlene Laub, church council president; Fran Potters and Janice Altrichter gather information to ensure that each child who is registered will receive gifts, and arranges for the distribution of the gifts to families.

To qualify for the Christmas Gift Program, children must live in the Northern Lehigh area and be registered clients of the Northern Lehigh Food Bank. Parents register their children ages 1 day to 17 years, which are the food bank eligibility guidelines. Ideas for three gifts their children would like to receive for Christmas are provided.

Then individuals, organizations, or businesses "adopt" a child or children and buy gifts for them.

For people who don't like to shop, monetary donations may be made and we'll do the shopping for you.

Because of economic conditions, the number of clients served by the food bank continues to grow as does the Children's Christmas Gift Program.

In 2007 over 250 gifts were distributed; 2008 and 2009 records indicate that 327 children received gifts.

As of Nov. 9, we have over 300 names and more children will be registered as it gets closer to the distribution date of Dec. 11.

At Thanksgiving when many count their blessings, think about those individuals, who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to make ends meet, worrying about not having enough food to eat, not having a warm coat to wear, or trying to figure out which bill can be paid this week.

For them a Christmas gift for their children may not happen without your help.

The Northern Lehigh community has always reached out to help others, and we are counting on you once again to do that.

All money donated is used for local children.

Individuals, organizations, or businesses interested in contributing to or helping with the Children's Christmas Gift Program may contact Altrichter at (610) 767-5519.