Many of us may get caught up in the hustle and bustle of buying gifts for our loved ones during this time of year, but those at Saint George Church our encouraging us to take a step back, and celebrate the real reason for the season.
"Christ is present in our lives everyday, so instead of wanting 'presents' for Christmas, we should want Christ's 'presence' in our lives everyday," said Hunter Lytle, Presence for Christmas program coordinator.
For five years now, they've been encouraging people to ask for "presence" instead of "presents." Lytle says they're also urging people to give.
What better way to give, than to continue what people in the Erie area call "AJO-ing it."
"AJO really sparked it, but people should have been paying it forward a long time ago," said Lytle. "It's sad it has to take a tragedy in order for people to actually do it."
In the spirit of AJO, Sarah O'Neill was this week's lay speaker. Sarah and her husband Jason, of course, started the AJO Pay It Forward movement, after their daughter, Alyssa, died of an epileptic seizure.
Sarah shared her story, and why during this time, more than ever, it's important to keep paying it forward.
"I like getting those angel trees, kids off the angel trees and shopping for them way more than my own kids because I know that they appreciate it. That this might be the only thing these children get."
On Wednesday, money raised from the Presence for Christmas, went to help the AJO Foundation. The program has already donated $400 of it's own.
"I logged in the other day to see where the totals were at and my jaw dropped, and I thought 'this much and it's only been three months?' It's fantastic." said O'Neill. "Erie is a very giving, charitable place to live."
Presence for Christmas continues on December 11 and 18 at Saint George Church. Each week, all funds raised will go to support the AJO Foundation.