JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Members of the Evangel Temple Assembly of God stood up last Sunday and volunteered to adopt a dozen families in need of a good Christmas.
Gary and Pamela Bailey have given back at Christmas time before, but they've never shouldered the responsibility of providing for one family alone.
"It's a little bit outside our comfort zone, I"ll be honest. We're not that outgoing - well my wife is, but I'm not - but we're very anxious to meet some people in need and to try to take a blessing to them, so we're excited about it," said Gary Bailey.
Sitting in the church's family life center Tuesday night, the Baileys hold a letter in their hands that touch their hearts:
"To whom it may concern: I have a family of four, and I just got laid off. I'm looking for a job and am not getting unemployment and don't know what to do for Christmas. I have two boys, twelve and four. Me and my wife are going to school to try to get better jobs, thanks to the GI bill. That only takes care of school and that's it. Please help if you can. If not for me and my wife, for my boys. Thank you."
"Christmas, when it seems like most people are at their happiest, there's a lot of people at their saddest," Gary reflected.
The letter is one of hundreds that First Coast News' Hero Central receives from families in need, especially around the holidays.
Evangel Temple recognized the call for help, and asked if they could randomly select a dozen families to provide for this Christmas.
Last weekend, a dozen church couples like the Baileys offered to be the heroes.
The church, which takes on many community outreach projects, began collecting donations a few months back.
Tuesday night, Pastor Chris Screws handed the volunteer couples Target gift cards, and let them know Lowes donated each adopted family a Christmas tree.
The volunteers will spend the next couple of days getting to know their adopted families, by shopping for Christmas gifts for the children, buying groceries, and helping them celebrate the holiday.
"Some of the [Evangel Temple] families are hardworking themselves and even at times could use some of these gifts, but their love for giving to people in need and seeing the smiles on the faces reiterates what Christmas is all about," said Pastor Screws.
Touchton Plumbing, Publix, Second Harvest and Kelly's Allstar T's also provided donations for the church to pay forward.
"It's just a matter of us giving our time. It's the least we could do," said the Baileys.
"It's a good time for us to show the love of Christ and exemplify what that means. We're anxious to meet this family and be a blessing to them."
First Coast News