Local couple helps those in need


On Dec. 16, married couple Cynthia and Dennis Whitaker, who attend Mercy Road Church Northwest, held their annual Mercy Christmas at the church for families in need during the holiday season.

“We had families register, and we set up a store with clothes, toys and more for parents to shop at,” Cynthia said. “It gives the parents dignity to have a say in what they’re going to get their child.”

At the free event, families came in shifts to explore what the store offered. Once parents chose gifts, volunteers wrapped them for parents to take home. Each family got to pick two gifts per child, a book, a stuffed animal, a family game and clothing.

Devon Taylor, a 30-year-old mother of four children, said she has attended the event for three years.

“My mom told me about the event, and now I am on Cynthia’s email list every year when it comes time for Christmas,” Taylor said. “I like the event because it provides essentials for my children, like coats, and it is fun to get them gifts. It helps me out a lot. My kids are a blessing.”

While parents shopped, children made ornaments and played games. Volunteers served families a warm meal and gave them gift cards for food. Each family also chose a few personal care items to take home.

“My husband and I were involved at another local church that did something similar to our event,” Cynthia said. “We expanded on it and started doing different things that we thought could change the experience and better it for the parents.”

Along with gifts and a meal, families took free Christmas photos.

“The parents love the photo opportunity because many of the families that attend have never had professional photos taken,” Cynthia said. “Overall, it is a great experience, event and way to give back during the holidays.”

To donate to families in need, visit mercychristmas.com.