PORTLAND, Ore — “We believe every child deserves a Christmas and that's what we are all about at Live Love Christmas,” Executive Director of Live Love NW Becky Hanenkrat said.
Live Love NW is on a mission to give families in need a little magic to take home for the holidays.
“It's not just providing gifts to the children. It's providing hope to the parents and the ability and empowerment of the parents to make a choice for their children and see the joy on those children's faces in the morning of Christmas,” Hanenkrat said.
They're a faith-based group started by Mannahouse Church. The work to fill the needs of people struggling throughout the Northwest.
“We really just, ultimately, want to make people feel seen, let them know that they are loved and help offer that big piece of dignity to help move them forward,” Mannahouse Church Outreach Director Hannah Ebb said.
Through a partnership with the KGW Great Toy Drive Live Love NW has been able to take thousands of families shopping for holiday gifts, free of charge.
“We make it more than just a giving event from a standpoint of getting a gift,” Hannenkrat said. “It's a giving event where we can pour into them hope and love.”
Love for people like Angelica Blanco. KGW met her and her sister and the toy distribution even last year. They had just lost their mother and their father was living with disabilities, leaving the two sisters in their early 20s to care for seven children.
“It takes a real heavy load off my back,” Blanco said. “I thought they weren't going to have Christmas. I thought we were just going to have a tree and maybe one or two under there, but now there's going to be quite a lot of them under there when they wake up.”
While every story is unique, there is one constant: the need for love, understanding, and community.
“I think, whenever we are blessed and have more than enough it really is tapping into the core of how we're created to take that blessing and be a blessing for somebody else,” Mannhouse Executive Pastor Derrill Corbin said.
This year their toy distribution will have to look a little different because of COVID-19. They’re changing the flow and there won’t be a big party with live music, but the heart of their mission will shine bright with the help of community members who give.
“It's the ability for a parent to give a gift that they choose specifically for that child and know that they can give it and be able to give that child a sense of joy and wonder at Christmas,” Hanenkrat said.
Donate to the KGW Great Toy Drive now at kgwtoy.com.