CULLMAN, Ala. – For over 30 years, concerned Cullman area citizens worked to make Christmas better for needy children and their families through a program called Christmas Love, offering clothing, food, toys and other things a family might need. Loreen Scott, who helped create the program, reached out to Cullman Caring for Kids Director Javon Daniel and Assistant Director Nancy Bryant 13 years ago for help with the food portion of the program, and the two eventually took charge of the nonprofit program separately from CCK. On Tuesday, Christmas Love Inc. dissolved its corporation and handed the reins over to Ashley Wilson of Curt’s Closet, presenting her a check for $20,000 to launch the program’s new chapter, which Wilson named “Curt’s Christmas.”
Cullman Caring for Kids, a separate nonprofit entity, is not affected by the move.
Daniel told Wilson, “We hope, in passing this along, that we pass along the mission and the ministry of Christmas Love of Cullman.”
Daniel told The Tribune, “I think that we looked at several things before we decided that we were going to dissolve Christmas Love. We looked at several ideas of where we wanted the bulk of all the inventory and everything and, after we talked with Ashley, we knew immediately that’s exactly where we wanted to do it. And we’re very, very pleased and proud that Curt’s Closet is going to carry on that tradition and ministry.”
Wilson said, “I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Children is where my heart is, and any way that I can serve and make just one child’s life better, then that’s my calling and that’s what I want to do. So this is just opening more doors for me. And this is truly a blessing, to not only myself, but Curt’s Closet and any child we can help in any way.”
Helen Lewis, chairperson of the board of Curt’s Closet, said, “We’re ready. We’ve talked about it a lot, and we’re ready to take on this new responsibility. And we know it’s going to be a lot, but we’re ready.”
Daniel said of the closing of his chapter of the holiday ministry, “It really has been a tough decision, but there’s just a whole lot of things; it was God’s timing.”
Wilson added, “I really would like to thank Mr. Champ Crocker, because he really has answered a million questions for me. He has been amazing. I couldn’t have done this without him because, like I said, I had a million questions that I didn’t know the answer to, and I could always contact him, and he was amazing. He helped this flow easily for me.”
Crocker responded, “It’s been a privilege to be involved in this project for Curt’s Closet and working with Javon and Nancy and Angie and the whole team here.” Turning to Daniel, he added, “Y’all have done a lot of good.”
Christmas Love served up to 200 children and their families per year. The program’s continuing priority is to make sure children have a new outfit of warm clothes: coat, socks, underwear, pants and shirts. It also gives them toys, and provides for practical family needs, as little as a broom and as big as a stove.
The program also seeks to uphold the dignity of the parents, who pick up the gifts and do their own wrapping, as Daniel explained, “so the parents have the ownership in their child’s Christmas.”
Daniel and Bryant admitted that they could not remember the wide range of businesses, organizations and individuals who have supported Christmas Love over the years, but wanted to express their thanks to all involved.
“It’s been a phenomenal roller coaster. It’s been a lot of ups and a lot of downs, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons. And hopefully, some of the bugs have worked out of it, so Curt’s Closet won’t have to worry about so many bugs.”
Finding those in need
All nominations of children for inclusion in the program are made anonymously. Christmas Love found a good formula for locating children in need, and determined not to divulge that information publicly, to protect the integrity of the system and prevent overloading of the people involved with requests for help. In taking over the program, Curt’s Closet will continue the approach, and will not make its own choices of who to serve.
Applications for inclusion in Curt’s Christmas will come through a third party, so Curt’s Closet requested that its office not be called with requests. That office does still handle requests for the regular services of Curt’s Closet, as it always has, so those calls are encouraged.
Curt’s Closet needs
Before it gears up for Christmas, Curt’s Closet has to get a steady flow of students ready to return to school. Wilson said that her shelves are particularly short on backpacks and adult-size tennis shoes. Additionally, the ministry is seeking volunteers. Curt’s Closet is located at 1103 Third Ave. SE in Cullman. To donate, volunteer or seek assistance, visit https://www.facebook.com/cw20curtscloset/ or call 256-735-4557.
Cullman Caring for Kids needs
Daniel and Bryant, who continue to tend to the needs of CCK’s food pantry, said that the summer months have seen an increased need for all the food supplies they typically give out: canned goods, popular children’s cereals, dried beans and other dry goods. To learn how you can help, visit https://www.cullmancaringforkids.com or https://www.facebook.com/CullmanCaringForKids, or call 256-739-1111.
Copyright 2021 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.