Christmas came early this month for youths and staff members at the Juvenile Justice Campus on East American Avenue.
On Dec. 9 and 10, 366 volunteers from 21 central San Joaquin Valley churches went into the detention-side pod areas of the campus to present the annual Juvenile Hall Christmas parties for the youths and staff. This year marked the 40th anniversary for the event.
Each night, volunteers played games with the youths and staff, sang songs and presented the Christmas story. After the story, people had opportunities to make professions of faith, rededicate their lives or request to talk with chaplains. Twenty pastors attended the parties.
Volunteers also handed out bags of Christmas gifts. Then, everyone ate together and enjoyed holiday treats.
"We fed them to death," says Carol Climer, who with her husband, Ron, has organized the Juvenile Hall Christmas parties for 40 years.
The Climers work with the Mid-Valley Southern Baptist Association. Ron Climer also is senior chaplain at Juvenile Hall through the Fresno County Probation Department.
Over the 40 years, Carol Climer says, more than $400,000 has been donated to buy gifts for youths and staff members for the parties.
Details: (559) 292-0290.
Catholic school teams up for toys for kids
More than 700 new toys were presented Friday to students on the King Elementary School campus, 1001 E. Florence Ave.
The toys were donated through a campaign by St. Anthony's Catholic School and King Elementary School. Monica Baker, a transition kindergarten teacher at King Elementary, coordinated the project.
In addition to students at King Elementary, the toys also were given to fifth- and sixth-grade students from Carver Elementary and students in the King Child Development Center. Both are housed on the King Elementary campus.
Christmas concert reaches out to Punjabi
A Christmas concert for the Punjabi community is scheduled at 5 p.m. today at Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave.
The event features Balbir Suffi, a well-known singer in Punjab who has a Christian ministry that reaches out to Punjabi people. The concert also includes a video on the meaning of Christmas.
The event is presented by NorthPointe Community Church in northwest Fresno. The church is working with pastor George Masih to start a congregation for Punjabi people.
Cost is $10.
Details: northpointe.org/punjabi or (559) 485-9050 or 892-1828.
Fresno church hosts Longest Night service
A Longest Night/Blue Christmas service is scheduled at 5 p.m. today at First Congregational Church of Fresno's Minturn Chapel, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd.
The service is designed for people struggling to feel joyous during the holidays in the midst of strained relationships or depression. It focuses on healing and light dawning in darkness.
Longest Night/Blue Christmas services are held in conjunction with the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which is today.
Details: (559) 227-8489.
Ministry honors groups, individuals
Fresno Metro Ministry honored two organizations and two individuals at its 43rd anniversary awards dinner Dec. 5 at Hope Lutheran Church in Fresno.
The 2013 honorees are: The Children's Movement of Fresno, Fresno Immigrant Youth in Action, Teresa DeAnda of El Comité para el Bienestar de Earlimart (Committee for the Well Being of Earlimart) and Gabe Hernandez of Fresno/Madera Youth for Christ.
Fresno Metro Ministry is a multifaith, multicultural organization dedicated to the creation of a more respectful, compassionate and inclusive Fresno that promotes social and economic justice.
Details: fresnometmin.org or (559) 485-1416.
Ministry offers Christmas for homeless
A Christmas dinner for the homeless downtown will be provided by BigFish Ministries at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, on G Street just off Ventura Avenue.
BigFish Ministries also will provide supplies to help keep people warm, including coats, blankets, mittens and socks.
BigFish Ministries, a ministry of NorthPointe Community Church, provides meals and prayer support to the homeless on Sunday afternoons throughout the year.
Details: (559) 681-8667.
PINC selects children's nonprofit beneficiary
Philanthropy Inspired by the Needs of Our Community, a nonprofit organization, recently announced that the beneficiary for its 2014 annual fundraiser event will be Transitions Children's Services.
Transitions Children's Services is a new nonprofit that provides foster care and extended foster care services to children, families and non-minor dependents in the child welfare and foster-care system.
PINC's fundraiser for Transitions Children's Services will be June 7.
PINC annually selects a nonprofit to help. Since 2009, PINC has helped Angel Babies of Hinds Hospice, Marjaree Mason Center, Make A Wish Foundation of Central California, Break the Barriers and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fresno.
Redeemer Lutheran hosts special service
A special service — A Musical Celebration of the Birth of Jesus — is scheduled at 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1084 W. Bullard Ave.
The event will feature Christmas music and readings, performed by the church's adult choir, handbell choir, Sunday school children, youth group and organist.
The church also will present regular services at 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Details: (559) 439-8500.
Mendota priest honored for 38th year
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mendota held a special event for the Rev. Gaspar Bautista on the 38th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
The event featured cultural dancers, a dramatic presentation and cake. The Rev. Guillermo Preciado, administrator of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Firebaugh, attended the event.
Bautista has served at Our Lady of Guadalupe since 2001. He is a native of Olanga in the Mexican state of Hidalgo.
The church is at 484 Quince St.
Details: (559) 655-4237.
Peoples Church offers Christmas production
Peoples Church's 2013 Christmas production — Takin' It to the Streets — is at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23, and 2 and 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Christmas Eve, at the church, 7172 N. Cedar Ave.
The front of the church and inside the auditorium will be transformed to resemble a "street party."
Details: peopleschurch.org or (559) 298-8001.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.