Some of the City of Clairton’s brightest and most talented kids turned out to share the meaning of Christmas during the third annual “Bring Your Gifts to Christ Nite.”

The initiative was started three years ago by the United Youth Ministries of Clairton, a cluster of African-American churches in the community that strives to showcase the city and its residents in a positive light.

BRINGING GIFTS—Kids dressed as toy soldiers carry gifts down the aisle.

Churches in the group are: Dream Christian Center, Gethsemane COGIC, Morning Star Baptist Church and Mount Olive First Baptist Church.

Festivities were held at Morning Star Baptist Church, 307 Shaw Ave., in Clairton.

“The purpose of the event is to come out and support our young people and have them showcase the gifts that God has blessed them with,” said Rev. Leroy Thompson, pastor of Dream Christian Center. Pastor Thompson served as the night’s host.

The evening centered around a play titled “A Christmas Gift,” which was written and directed by Thompson.

The production was a “Christmas Carole”-tinged show that taught the valuable lesson of loving the people that are in your life and letting go of past hurts.

“We want people to see the true meaning of Christmas though this play. This was a vision that God laid on my heart and everyone involved had something to say. It was a team effort and I am glad that we all worked well together,” Thompson said.

The play was set in Miss Doll’s Christian Home for Girls, where the main character, Nene, was dropped off by her mother at a young age and left there. Nene waited four years for her mother to return and became bitter and angry when her mother never came to get her.

Although she had the love, support and Christian values from Miss Doll, the owner of the orphanage, Nene felt she lived a hard knock life void of love.

After Miss Doll’s untimely death, Nene is left to run the orphanage. She balks at the idea saying that this isn’t the way she wanted her life to turn out.

“I spent my whole life working someone else’s plan for my life,” Nene said. “I’ve had a life that’s a hot mess and now I’m done.”

As a result, she becomes hateful and stern to the new crop of girls that are living in the home.

On Christmas Eve, Nene is visited by the angel of Christmas past who takes her on a journey of her past, showing her what an abusive and bitter woman she has become.

At the end of the trip, Nene realizes that God gives second chances at life regardless of what was done and that she had love in her life all along.

“We hope that this play helps people to see the journey their lives should take, which is coming to Christ,” said Tara Baptiste, United Youth Ministries of Clairton advisor from Gethsemane COGIC. Baptiste served as this year’s wardrobe and production assistant.

“The cast did a great job and they even threw in some ad libs. This is a ministry of many people not just one person,” explained Anita Hammons, who played Nene and is a member of the United Ministries of Clairton. She is a member of Morning Star Baptist Church. “Our kids need something in this city and it’s going to take all of the churches to get the job done.”

The play was a hit to all who attended.

“You need to take this show on the road,” said William C. Callaway, pastor of Mount Olive First Baptist Church.

Mount Olive member Rashida Webb agreed with her pastor.

“This play was a blessing. Each year the event gets better and better,” Webb said.

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