There are some big changes to be aware of as the Good News Gathering prepares for its 8th annual Christmas Free Sale.
The sale, which is open to anyone and offers local residents a chance a pick out Christmas gifts free of charge, is planned for 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.
The biggest change is that after a handful of years the event is being moved from the Highland County Fairgrounds to the Good News Gathering site off U.S. Route 62, just south of the Hillsboro High School/Middle School location.
“Now we’ll be able to have everything under one roof and the weather won’t be much of a factor because almost everything will be in a heated building,” said Ron Hennison, GNG team leader for the free sale. “We don’t want anyone to think we had any problem with the fairgrounds. It worked out well for us for several years, but we have just outgrown it.”
Another big change is that when people arrive for the sale, they’ll receive a ticket that tells them what time they should come back to select their items. For instance, Hennison said, the first group of people to arrive will receive tickets telling them to come back at 12:45 p.m.
For years people have waited in line for hours for the sale to open. A few years ago when it started in the early morning, people were known to camp out overnight at the fairgrounds to get a good spot in line.
“Now they won’t have to set their cars for three or four hours and they don’t have to stand out in the cold,” Hennison said. “It’s just really grown and we want to thank everyone that has donated items to help the sale become what it has become.”
The sale will also have a cafe where shoppers can pick up a quick lunch that Hennison said in the past has consisted of things like chili and hots dogs.
There are basically four areas or parts of the sale. There is an area where children can pick out gifts for their parents, an area where parents can pick out toys for their children, an area where household goods will be available, and an area where clothes for all sizes and ages will be available.
Hennison said the areas where children pick out gifts for their parents and where parents can pick out toys for their children are kept kind of separate so the gifts can kept as secret as possible.
He also noted that the household items will be outside in a large tent next to the ministry building. But it will be enclosed and heated.
He said that in the past the clothes were kept in church members’ homes and other places, but they now have so many that the church rented six storage lockers to store them in this year.
As far as the toys go, Hennison said each family will get tickets for up to three toys.
“We’re sorry if they have more kids than that, but we have to limit it some way. We figure that if they get three toys at least we’ve helped them that much,” he said. “Limiting them to three helps the donations go farther and allows us to help more people.”
No identification is required at the sale and no one is turned away.
Hennison said the church is excited about the event and its new location.
“We’ll have most things under one roof and we’re excited about using our ministry center, which is a tool to help our ministries grow,” he said. “This is just our way of spreading God’s love and helping some of those in need.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.