With the arrival of the season of giving, the community is invited to the Branson Famous Theatre on Monday, Dec. 12, for the 9th Annual Branson Family Gifting Show.
Hosted by the Joyful Heart Music Foundation, the annual production will begin this year at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a variety of area entertainers including Harmony Trio, Comedian/Ventriloquist Jim Barber, Dylan Pratt, Desta Pritchett, Penny Cardin-Loden, Gary Dooms, Randy Plummer and Brandon & Megan Mabe.
“This year we’re doing Blessing Baskets. Basically everybody needs to stop, take a breath and realize how blessed we are and all the things we have,” Joyful Heart Music Foundation Founder Melonie Barber. “We’re excited to see how many folks we can bless. Last count, I’m close to 40 families. It always gets interesting the closer we get to see and watch how it just comes together.”
The Blessing Baskets will include items like toys, baby diapers, gift cards, bibles, games, small tools, gloves, blankets and other needed items. Barber founded the non-profit in 2018 in an effort to grow support for her ministry of helping foster families through special events.
“Everybody’s wanting to know where this big budget is and it’s like, there is no big budget,” Barber said. “People donate, people give and while it would be nice to pay everybody, they’ve all been gracious enough to donate their time and the theater. The Mabe’s donated the time at the theater for us, so it’s pretty exciting.”
As the mother of adopted foster children, Barber explained this event is hosted each year to gift an evening of fun to foster and adoptive families across Stone and Taney counties.
“I have a blended family. I have five birth children, three children adopted out of foster chair and I have a step-daughter now. But in adopting those children and being a foster mom in the Stone County/Taney County area, we helped 29 children during that time on top of our birth children. Realizing what the needs are, not just for the foster children, but the family itself. I mean a lot of these parents are very giving of themselves and time and that’s extra doctor visits, extra therapy visits, everything’s extra and yet they do it willingly…My heart was to show foster families and those who go on to adopt from the foster system how much they’re appreciated as front line workers.”
Following the lengthy pandemic, Barber said the need is bigger than ever to bless these families who not only battled COVID but also the situations it created for their foster children.
“Nobody realizes what foster families went through during COVID. Nobody realizes how hard it became on the children. They weren’t allowed to have visitation with their families. It would have to be on Zoom or FaceTime. They weren’t allowed to see anybody. One of our needs as a human is touch and they need that touch from their parents. They need to have that hug from their own biological parents,” Barber said. “It’s going to be more of a need for those who have been shut in and of course with the economic status where our country is right now. Everything that we can do to help even if it’s a loaf of bread. Anything I can do that says, ‘Hey, we care about you. We appreciate what you’re doing to help us.’ I think it is very important.”
With the combination of the show and the Blessing Baskets, Barber said her hope is to provide emotional healing to the families they strive to bless.
“When a foster child moves from one placement to another placement, there’s no stability. We have good foster families in this area and we need to encourage them and give them strength in what they do, so they can keep doing it,” Barber said. “We focus on those whose heart is really big and their passion is to help these children and give them a place. We also want to appreciate their biological children. Their biological children give up a lot. My kids gave up a lot.”
Barber added the blessing of welcoming a foster child or children into one’s family takes place for a reason.
“My oldest son is here because his foster brother was able to get him to safety when his lung collapsed and he was driving,” Barber said. “That was one thing that was a huge blessing out of being a foster mom, was that night when Gentry’s lung collapsed and he was driving his foster brother home from work. His foster brother helped him get home and then we got him to an ambulance and to the hospital. But it’s just interesting to me to see how it’s not always how much you bless them, it’s that they turn around and bless your own life.”
This event is free to foster and adoptive families to attend. However, Blessing Baskets will only be made available to foster and adoptive families who register with Barber in advance of the event. For the general public, a donation of $15 at the door is asked to assist with the continuation of hosting this annual production.
“People can take pictures with Santa in the lobby and we may have some special guests. We may have some reindeer there that are coming specially just for this event,” Barber said. “If you can only give me $10, that’s fine, but everything goes to help. It just goes to keep this going year after year and we look forward to seeing as many people as we can fit in that theater.”
For those who would like to provide additional assistance by donating items for the Blessing Baskets, Barber shared some of the types of items they’re still in need of.
“I’m looking for anything from the heart. It can be a gift certificate for an oil change, it can be a haircut certificate, a bottle of shampoo, a loaf of bread, some homemade jelly,” Barber said. “They can drop them off at the Baldknobbers theater. If you go by there, just let them know it’s for the gifting show. That away they’ll put everything to one side for us…we can never get too much. Maybe someone wants to donate a family movie to someone. Mittens, gloves, coats. Anything and everything you can think of.”
Those who are unable to attend the show, but would still like to make a financial contribution can mail a check to P.O. Box 1911 in Branson. The Branson Famous Theatre is located at 645 Historic Hwy 165 in Branson.
For additional information or to register your family with Barber call 417-527-6598 or visit the ‘9th Annual Branson Gifting Show’ event page on Facebook.