Police officers, troopers, paramedics, deputies and military personnel showed up at Walmart on Sunday, Dec. 17 to help 92 kids shop for Christmas.

For several years, Nebo Crossing church has sponsored the event along with generous donations from the community. Each child is partnered with a member of McDowell’s local emergency services, military, or a member of the church, and is given $100 to shop for Christmas gifts they may not otherwise receive.

“The heartbeat of our church is McDowell County!” Pastor Bob Ritter stated in a news release. “We have a real passion for the needs that our community face. The greatest asset in our county is the generations of people that call McDowell County ‘home,’ and no generation here is more valuable than the next! This is why Shop with a Hero is one of my favorite events each year.”

Kids, families and many of the heroes gathered at Nebo Crossing for the 10 a.m. worship service. Everyone ate lunch together in the fellowship hall, and then met at the Walmart in Marion.

“To see so many smiling faces gathering in worship of the Savior is quite fulfilling. Jesus tells us in Mathew 25:40, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ That tells us that getting out of the church building and stepping into the needs of the community is really service to Christ — it’s worship!” said David Likins, Nebo Crossing Academy administrator and Shop with a Hero organizer.

Likins said Shop with a Hero allows Nebo Crossing to partner with the community and show the love of Christ in so many different ways.

“It’s not just the families that we’re shopping with that receive a blessing from participating, but it’s also deeply affecting the donors, the volunteers from our church, the store employees, and the bystanders in Walmart,” he said. “We had people stop their vehicles or their shopping carts to ask what we were doing, and to make contributions right then to the program or to specific families. I love seeing how sharing the love of Christ inspires other people to love as well.”

Linkins gave his thanks to the Marion Police Department, the employees and managers of Walmart and the members of the Nebo Crossing church.

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