“I had done some things like this on a much smaller scale,” said Honts. “When they asked if I would consider taking the job, I thought about it and prayed about it and decided that I would. I knew that my husband would come along beside me. He’s always willing to be my partner, especially for something like this.”
The couple helped gather enough toys for 231 children.
Toyland in the Mac Center at the First United Methodist Church was filled with toys, bicycles, games, balls, books, clothes and diapers.
Honts said she and her husband received a huge blessing for their efforts.
“Of course, it was a lot of work,” she said. “It took a lot of time, but it was very fulfilling. My husband and I talked about it and, basically, this was our Christmas this year.”
Honts said she’s amazed at how JCOC fulfills so many wishes at Christmastime, not just for children, but for many families as well. She said that, in her opinion, it’s remarkable how churches, businesses and individuals come through at this time of the year to help those less fortunate.
JCOC chairperson Mary Agnes Hester said the couple did an outstanding job.
“They’re amazing organizers,” said Hester. “No one can know how much work and how many long hours are involved in organizing Toyland and carrying it through. Regina thanked us for allowing them to be a part of our Christmas, but we were blessed to have them help.”
The work begins in October and lasts until every child has been taken care of and the Mac Center is turned back over to the church.
“We prayed that people would give, and they did,” said Honts. “If they hadn’t given, it wouldn’t have happened like it did. It was through the gifts and generosity of the people that made it happen. We’re already looking forward to doing it again next year.”
Honts grew up in the Williams community. She and her husband attend Williams First Baptist Church, which is one of the churches that supports the JCOC.
Hester said that Jacksonville State University employees, as they have in past years, helped as did Food Outlet employees who made deliveries of ham and turkey breasts. Schools, including White Plains, which is not in the Jacksonville district, helped. The Cowboy Church in Alexandria collected toys. This is the third year the Honda plant at Lincoln donated toys. This year Honda employees delivered three truck loads for the children.
Hester said she and everyone associated with JCOC appreciates the churches and volunteers who participated either by delivering, helping distribute items or making contributions of items or checks. Each year, she said, the community always comes together to make this huge undertaking a reality.
“There is no way I could ever mention all who remembered our children and families,” said Hester. “All I can say is that we have an awesome God, and we are so fortunate to be able to call Jacksonville our home.”
In addition to making Christmas more fun for children, families were given bags filled with food for their Christmas dinner. Each bag had either a turkey breast or a large ham. Seventy-one teens were given $30 vouchers for Walmart, and 25 seniors were given $30 vouchers for Food Outlet.
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