The first Christmas in AugustTM was a project of the Sunbeam Band of the First Baptist Church of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1927. Full Story.
The North American Mission Board and national WMU partner in choosing the missionaries, and the missionaries provide a list of items they wish to receive.
What happens with the collected gifts? Stories abound from grateful missionaries who acknowledge that the impact of these gifts will perhaps not be known until eternity.
Your church can participate in Christmas in August. Prepare early. Before you put away the Christmas decorations in December or January, keep in mind what you’ll need for Christmas in August. Mark the boxes you’ll use so you don’t spend time trying to find just the right decorations.
1. The Missionaries: Choose the missionaries you wish to provide gifts for. Each WMU organization provides North American missionaries to choose from and a list of their needs.
2. Promotion: Share with the church about the missionaries, their work, and their needs. This can be another great opporutnity to get all age levels working together, creating a unique churchwide missions event.
3. Collecting: Throughout the month of August, collect items for the missionaries. Set up a designated area in the church for the items to be dropped off and/or choose a single day in August to hold a churchwide celebration.
4. Packing: At the end of the month, sort and pack the gifts. Do not wrap the items. Send only the items requested because storage can be a problem.
5. Mailing: Mail the boxes to the missionaries along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Place self-addressed, stamped postcards in boxes and ship to missionaries The missionary will return the postcard to let you know he or she received the package.
You’ll find more information and ideas in each of WMU’s magazines and the WMU Year Book.
Free printable 11 x 17 Christmas in August posters (pdf files):
The first Christmas in AugustTM was a project of the Sunbeam Band of the First Baptist Church of Charlottesville, Virginia. The year was 1927.
Elizabeth Ellyson Wiley (Mrs. J. Hundley) was speaking in that church on her first furlough (now called stateside assignment). She and her husband served at the University of Shanghai in China. She spoke of her desire to witness to the illiterate women who worked as servants in the university community. She mentioned their children and her desire for these children to know the joy of Christmas. Mrs. Guy Via, who led the Sunbeam Band, asked if the children couldn’t send gifts. There were 100 gifts that first year, and a tree was set up in the university chapel. Christmas entertainment was given for the servants and their children.
Since there were 400 mothers and children to be provided for, Mrs. Wiley wrote other friends in Virginia, telling them of the project. Eventually, the project was adopted for Sunbeams by Virginia WMU, and gifts were sent to the Richmond office and then shipped from there. As there were more gifts, other projects were set up: Christmas trees for the children of faculty members, a Christmas tree at Yangtee Poo Social Center maintained by Dr. Wiley’s classes.
In 1937 the box of gifts was lost in shipping; it was traced as far as the Philippines, but never reached Shanghai. It seemed unwise to ship any more items to China because of the war, so Virginia Sunbeams sent their gifts to home missionaries (now called North American missionaries).
Home and Foreign Fields of November 1936 had suggested sending Christmas boxes to home missionaries rather than to those overseas and suggested some needs.
In August 1949 World Comrades (WMU, SBC, magazine for children—Sunbeams, GAs, and RAs) had a feature story about the Sunbeams of a particular Virginia church entitled "A Christmas Tree in August."
That same month’s issue of The Window of YWA (WMU, SBC, magazine for young women) promoted sending packages overseas in August or September. These were not Christmas gifts, however, but warm clothing for the winter.
In August 1950 both the above-mentioned magazines promoted sending gifts to Japan and called the project Christmas in August. In August 1952 Royal Service (WMU, SBC, magazine for adult women) asked women to help the young people have Christmas in August. From 1953 to 1973 Royal Service promoted the idea of adult organizations having Christmas in August.
After 1950 the suggested recipients were usually home missionaries.
The North American Mission Board now chooses the missionaries, and the missionaries list the items they wish to receive. Information and lists of the missionaries are carried in WMU magazines.ShareThis