The Journal Gazette
Friday, December 23, 2016 10:18 pm

Giving connects community

Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette

A group of children from a local church’s after-school program brought a little holiday cheer to residents of Summit City Nursing & Rehabilitation on Thursday.

Donning Santa hats and reindeer antlers, the children from Fort Wayne’s Greater Progressive Baptist Church Family Life Center sang carols and handed out cookies to the facility’s residents and staff. In return, the kids were given new winter coats bought by the nursing home.

It was the second annual Cookies for Coats giveaway, said Leslie Alford, an administrator at the church.

"We wanted to create this opportunity for the kids to get a brand new winter coat for Christmas," Alford said. "It’s an opportunity for our kids to want to bring something to everyone that’s here and interact with people outside of their neighborhood."

The Family Life Center operates out of the former Old Fort YMCA building on Reed Street, which the church bought last year, and aims to help the community through academics, athletics and outreach, Alford said.

"We want to reach people that otherwise would maybe never come through the church," Alford said.

Patrick Ngene, executive director of Summit City Nursing & Rehabilitation, said the facility’s goal of serving the community is not limited to the people who live there but includes area children as well. The goal, he said, is to foster peace among community members and help children grow up to be responsible, caring adults.

"We try to make sure we serve them and give them what they need to grow up in our community," Ngene said. "If you are serving a community, you want to know who is in that community. So when we start bringing the children in, they’re going to love the environment where we’re working, they’re going to maybe end up having jobs in this area."

Ngene said the residents enjoy visiting with the kids. The plan, he said, is to continue to expand the giveaway moving forward.

"When they see children, it makes their day," Ngene said. "They love to see children come through and when the children bring them cookies, they just love that."

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