Common Ground helps more than 1,200 youngsters for Christmas

December 17, 2023
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Bundles of gifts await pickup at First Methodist Mansfield last week.

By Amanda Rogers

Mansfield Record

Gifts have been bagged and distributed all over Mansfield for the past week, ready for youngsters to open on Christmas morning.

Common Ground’s Christmas Program provided for 1,230 youngsters from 433 families in the Mansfield ISD this year, up from 1,010 children last year. The children were “adopted” by members of 10 churches and the Mansfield High School Key Club, plus a partnership with Toys for Tots that provided some toys. Mansfield Cares, a local nonprofit, provided families with Kroger gift cards for food.

Mona Barbee helps distribute packages at First Methodist.

“This is how Common Ground got started in the mid-90s,” said Susan Luttrell, director of missions and serving at First Methodist Mansfield. “Teresa Sherwood (of First Methodist Mansfield), St. Jude’s and Living Word ran into each other at Erma Nash Elementary, all doing the same thing. They decided if we worked together, we could do so much more.”

Common Ground, a nonprofit group of churches, food pantries and civic groups, has now expanded to help with back-to-school items, Feed the Kids for Summer and the Weekend Backpack Program. The group started to make sure that every child received a toy and clothing for Christmas. Signups for the Christmas Program were held in October and November.

Local moms waiting to pick up their gifts this week appreciated the help.

“This is a blessing from God,” said Shirley, who has five children. “Last year we received coats.”

“We needed this extra help to make sure the kids had Christmas,” said an anonymous Mansfield single mom with three children. “It’s nice to not just do it by myself.”

The focus has changed a little for Common Ground in the past few decades.

“Because of the partnership with Toys for Tots, Common Ground has made it a priority to make sure kids receive a new set of clothes to start the new semester,” Luttrell said. “Everybody needs a coat and every kid wants a toy for Christmas. This gives us an opportunity to make sure all kids in Mansfield ISD get that.”

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