May 22, 2018
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The Rock Church in Brewer wraps gifts for needy children

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — The Rock Church is known for its uptempo religious and inspirational music during services, but on Sunday afternoon, the female wrappers took over.

That’s wrappers with a W.

The church partners with Christmas is for Kids and set as its goal raising funds to provide gifts for 100 underprivileged children who would not receive anything for Christmas this year.

After several female members of the Rock Church in Brewer had crossed off every item on their lists, exhausted all their cash and gift card funds, and took the last bagged items off the registers and into their carts, they left the store with 143 gifts to be wrapped by a small army of wrappers.

“Last year we wrapped 71 gifts, so we’re really happy with this year’s total,” said Tanya Funari, co-organizer of the church’s partnership effort with Christmas is for Kids.

This is the second year of the program, which provides gifts for children of poor families in the area served by the Penquis Agency, formerly Penquis CAP.

“We always used to do something called Ladies Classic Christmas where we got together and did a big Christmas party with a Yankee swap and dinner, but we decided collectively we should make it about serving the people of our community rather than ourselves,” said Jen Dube, whose husband, Dave, is the pastor at the Brewer church. “Somebody had the idea of partnering with Christmas is for Kids, and we all loved it.”

Businesses such as Target, which provided a 10 percent discount and a $150 gift card, and Shaw’s, which donated a $50 gift card, joined in the effort.

“It’s very fulfilling, and it’s so much fun, too,” said co-organizer Amanda Bemis. “And it’s very personalized because every child we sponsor has a little profile saying what they want with first and second choices and gives a background story on them so you can know who you’re giving gifts to.”

Dube, Bemis and Funari were all awaiting the horde of shoppers after setting up five long tables with plenty of tape, scissors, holiday paper and gift bags for wrapping.

“Last year we did 70 in less than two hours, and we had a lot less help,” said Dube. “We had a couple ladies who weren’t too sure about it, but right after it was over, they were the first two to sign up for this year. They had a ball.”

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