BONIFAY – New Smyrna Assembly of God Church and the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office came together Saturday, Dec. 18, for the inaugural “Project Christmas Star,” a program that took Christmas giving beyond the traditional gift donations.
About 100 local children and their families participated in the program, which offered a walk through an enactment of Biblical-era Bethlehem, beginning with an open-air market and ending at a nativity scene, where they heard a retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Following the visit to the nativity scene, the children were greeted by other members of the church congregation, HCSO deputies, and members of the HCSO Ladies’ Auxiliary to receive gifts.
Church Pastor John Richbourg and Sheriff John Tate say the goal was for families to leave not just with Christmas gifts, but also with an experience that would make a lasting impression about the true meaning of the season.
“We wanted to do more than give these children presents,” said Richbourg. “We wanted to share the love of Christ and remind them of the reason for the season. We also wanted to help foster the relationship between our community and our local law enforcement. Sheriff John Tate loves this community, and we wanted to be sure the kids see that law enforcement does more than make arrests, that they share and care for this community.”
“We definitely thought this would be a more meaningful experience for local families,” said Sheriff Tate. “The men and women of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office enjoyed working on this project, and we are looking forward to nect year.”