Lake Norman Publications

Slew of Huntersville community organizations part of Christmas Store project

Volunteers wrap gifts to create a complete holiday experience for families. /Lindsay Krone

HUNTERSVILLE – With its annual Turkey Day service event in the Huntington Green neighborhood completed, Caterpillar Ministries has adjusted its focus toward building a Christmas store for families in Huntington Green and, new this year, families in the Deer Hill Apartments.

Parents who have signed up with Caterpillar Ministries will be invited to come shop for their children at Lake Forest Church-Huntersville while volunteers help their children do craft projects to make gifts for their parents.

This year the Christmas store expects to serve up to 400 children, according to Caterpillar Ministries Executive Director Sarah Fortner. Fortner added that some area residents may not realize that as the population of Huntersville grows, so does the need for volunteers and donations to meet the increased need in the community. She’s hopeful that each child will be able to receive at least two gifts.

“The Lake Norman community has always been very generous. In our 15 years, God has provided amazingly to this ministry and this neighborhood,” she said. “We do have a lot of generous people that can make it happen, and we know will make it happen.”

Fortner said Caterpillar Ministries aims to create a premier shopping experience for families, like shopping in a New York City department store. The Cornelius Youth Orchestras will play music as parents shop and enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres. Parents can even visit the gift-wrapping station to wrap their presents or have them wrapped by a volunteer.

This year, Caterpillar Ministries is also offering to deliver presents if they won’t fit in the family’s vehicle or if parents want to keep them a secret from their children.

The collection of items is in progress with a goal of providing each child at least two gifts.

Fortner said the families pay for the gifts at a price well below retail value, but the money goes back into programs run by Caterpillar Ministries.

“They help support their own programming here,” she said. “We want to show our families honor and respect. They’re hard-working and they’re resilient, and if we can walk beside them as a community and help them during this season, then that’s what we’re going to do. It shows them God’s love.”

Similar to the Caterpillar Ministries Turkey Day event held last Saturday, families will also receive a food box and a gift card at the Christmas shopping event so that they can enjoy a holiday meal.

This holiday project is a collaboration among Lake Forest Church-Huntersville, Iglesia El Buen Samaritano de Lake Forest, Christ Community Church, Huntersville United Methodist Church and SouthLake Christian Academy.

The Christmas Store will be open to pre-registered Huntington Green and Deer Hill Apartments families on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Caterpillar Ministries is seeking new toy donations, grocery gift cards and volunteers to assist with the shopping experience, with a “wish list” site of priority items accessible at

If you would like to help with a donation or perhaps some volunteer time, email Impact Director Heather Kendall at

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