By CHRIS AGEE
About 400 individuals packed the First Christian Church food pantry Saturday for a Christmas party geared toward children.
"The whole town helped us get stuffed animals and we had candy and all kinds of neat race cars," said food pantry director Genie Quincy.
She said volunteers at the church-based charity, which currently serves about 600 families each month, saw a dramatic increase in turnout for its most recent event.
"We had a small Christmas party for the children after Christmas last year and there were only about 80 [attendees]," she explained.
Though they served far more clients than last year, Quincy said volunteers received significant assistance from those in the community.
"Jim Crawford made 15 picnic tables for children and we had a drawing for those," she said. "We had all these big stuffed animals they drew for."
Collecting enough toys was a group effort, too, she added.
She said several individuals stepped up to help gather enough stuffed animals for the invited children.
While one volunteer was searching garage sales Saturday morning, Quincy said, "One man who had some in his barn that were Christmas animals said, 'I just want to donate them.'"
When others in the community heard about the need, she said, "people were showing up at the door" with donations.
"The community in Mineral Wells is so wonderful the way everybody works together," she said. "We had lunch, we had presents and it was good."
After the party, she said a surplus of gifts remained, thanks to the generosity of local residents.
"The bags of presents we had left over we took to the Catholic Daughters because they have 80 foster children," she explained.
Though Quincy spent most of her time Saturday among party guests, she said a Christmas celebration of a different sort took place the same day on the church's lawn.
"We had a live nativity put on by our youth out in the courtyard," she said, noting the infant daughter of a couple in the church represented the baby Jesus.
In addition to church youth, Quincy said "we had donkeys, sheep and goats."