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Churches serve more than 1,000

Presents, food for Newhall families at Festividad

Posted: December 19, 2009 8:04 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Maria Villes, 6, center, and Jered Trujillo, 6, pick out videotapes as they join an estimated 1,100 people who attended the fourth annual Christmas Festividad presented by Iglesia Bautista Esperanza and Faith Community Church in Newhall on Saturday.

 
It was less than a week before Christmas and the pile of presents beneath Anna Augenstein’s tree looked slim.

“We had to get creative,” said Augenstein, 57, of Newhall. “Each person picked one gift for someone else.”

But thanks to one local church, her grandchildren will each have at least one extra present to open Christmas Day.

With Disney movies in hand, Augenstein’s four young grandchildren walked away from the fourth annual Christmas Festividad, hosted Saturday by Faith Community Church and Esperanza Church in Newhall’s Stagecoach Plaza.

“It’s a good thing for them to do this for the kids, especially with the financial system the way it is,” Augenstein said.

The two churches provided free turkeys, presents, barbecue lunches and entertainment for more than 1,000 Newhall residents — triple the amount of people who turned out last year.

Before the event, congregation members passed out 7,500 fliers to residents in the communities surrounding their Newhall churches.

“This is a good opportunity for us to enjoy a meal with our neighbors and bless them in a really tangible way,” said Steve Jackson, senior pastor of Faith Community.

While 10-year-old Nuemy Gonzalez was grateful for her new Disney movies, the presents were not her favorite part of the event.

“I get to be with my family,” she said.

About 60 volunteers from the churches assisted with the event.

“The line was snaking around the parking lot,” said volunteer and Faith Community member, Steve Lunetta. “The Lord really worked it out. We gave the last hot dog to the last person in line.”

The goal of Festividad is to reach out to the community, said Jason Semelsberger, a Faith Community deacon.

“We want to let the immediate community know we’re here and show who Christ is,” he said.

Pairing with Esperanza Church, or Iglesia Bautista Esperanza, allows Spanish speakers to learn about the congregation’s Spanish services and English classes, Semelsberger said.

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