Gifts of Magi volunteer Jane Ludwick dons a huge smile as she looks out over the tables of wrapped gifts awaiting children and families of Landrum. The Gifts of Magi project began in 1999. (photo submitted)

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Gifts of Magi marks 13 years of making Christmas bright

Published 10:01pm Monday, December 10, 2012

Landrum Presbyterian Church minister Jane Culpepper started Gifts of the Magi in 1999 after seeing a serious need to help the children of Landrum, especially at Christmas time.

Culpepper soon approached the Board of Operation Hope, and along with other church leaders, they devised a plan to reach out to families who didn’t have the means to make their children’s Christmas wishes come true.

The group then approached O.P. Earle Guidance Counselor Susan Henderson to coordinate an annual gift program.

O.P. Earle Principal Brian Murray said, “We are the conduit to the community of Landrum with the Magi program. It’s a partnership with everyone.”

Starting in October Henderson sends a letter to parents asking for participation from those in need. The parents then send back information on gender, age and size, as well as their child’s present wish list.

“Privacy is of utmost importance,” said Jane Ludwick, a volunteer from Landrum Presbyterian Church.

Each child is assigned a gold Magi star with his or her information, never a name, provided.

Participating local church’s then request stars and sign up sheets are placed in each church.

Every child will receive two bags – one of clothing the other presents – placed unwrapped in gift bags with the Magi star attached.

“This year 128 children will have gifts on Christmas,” said Ludwick.

Ludwick has volunteered for the Gifts of Magi for many years.  Each church has its own coordinator, then the gifts are sent to one church for distribution. It takes a final three days to get everything organized.

On gift giving day, parents arrive from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with church volunteers welcoming them one at a time. Ludwick said every parent is “very grateful.”

“I can’t put into words how we feel,” Ludwick said of the effort put in by volunteers. “Tired; at times it’s exhausting but these kids are going to get Christmas.”

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