GiftOfHopelogoBy Andria Barrios

Families in need over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday will be well taken care of through the Emergency Care Help Organization’s (ECHO) local charity called Brandon Gift of Hope. But this is no ordinary outreach.

It’s a collaboration of several churches throughout the community coming together to demonstrate Christ through giving.

Churches such as Journey Church, Bay life, St. Andrews, Apostles Lutheran, Bell Shoals Baptist and 11 others are contributing to Brandon Gift of Hope, with First Baptist of Brandon overseeing and using their special events center as the headquarters.

“Gift of Hope is exactly true to its name,” said Debbie Weisemann, minister of Community Outreach at Bell Shoals Baptist, which has been involved with the charity for the past four years.

“There are so many families that are food insecure in these times,” said Melanie Langston of Bay life.

Needy families may register at the ECHO foundation location during the first week of November. Applications are also accepted at the Compassion House and The Donation Tent. No financial records are required, though photo ID, birth certificate and proof of address are. Twelve zip codes throughout the area are accommodated.

Once families register, they are given appointment times to receive donated food items for both holidays as well as Christmas gifts for needy children. Volunteers also pray for families and listen to their concerns.

“We can get away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays to reach out to others who don’t have much,” said William Bartelt of Apostles Lutheran.

“It’s an opportunity for the church to represent Christ in practical life situations and make a difference by giving hope, prayer offerings and a hand up,” said Ric Hesse of Journey Church, which has contributed for the past two years.

Churches put aside denominational differences and work together to fulfill the needs of the community. Volunteer slots are open and can be filled online. Students may receive community service hours. Donations are also accepted.

For more information on Brandon Gift of Hope, visit or

Previous articleOperation Christmas Child To Collect Gift-Filled Shoeboxes For Needy Children
Next articleNovember: Get To Know Your Saints