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Find the real Christmas spirit in downtown Columbia

Road tour aims to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas

“The True Meaning of Christmas Tour” stop in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Those meandering downtown Columbia with visions of sugarplums on Dec. 20 might get a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas – and it comes with free hot cocoa.

The United Methodist Church is hitting the road with “The True Meaning of Christmas Tour” in 16 states this year, offering free hot cocoa, opportunities to lend a helping hand and an invitation to join with others to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas.

“We want to offer our community a different type of gift: an opportunity to celebrate what Christmas is all about by engaging in service with neighbors, boosting joy and building relationships with others,” said the Rev. Carly Wicklund, minister of evangelism and outreach at Shandon United Methodist Church. “We are also extending an invitation to attend a place of worship or become part of a faith community.”

Columbia-area United Methodist churches will host the come-and-go event at EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St., in Columbia, from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 20. An easy-to-find, bedecked tour truck will be the centerpiece of the festivities. The whole community is invited.

Before coming to Columbia, the tour will make a Dec. 19 stop in Charleston.

There will also be a collection of sample- or travel-sized toiletries – such as deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and bar soap – that Transitions Homeless Center will distribute to the local homeless population. Tour participants can bring donations to the event.

A 2013 survey conducted by Pew Research Center indicated that the activities that people least liked at Christmas time are commercialism/materialism, money/expense, and shopping/crowds. What they most look forward to is spending time with family and friends (69 percent) and religious reflection/church (11 percent).

“This tour is a unique way for the church to reach out to people who are experiencing loneliness or who want to give back to the community at this significant time of year,” said Dan Krause, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, which is coordinating the month-long expedition. “More than 500 volunteers from local United Methodist churches are partnering with us to make this a multi-state effort.”

The True Meaning of Christmas Tour launched Dec. 2 is making stops in 21 cities through Christmas Eve. Follow the tour online at UnwrapChristmas.org and #UnwrapChristmas.

 

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