The Making of a Christmas Ornament

For the third consecutive year, TrueLight Childcare is selling Christmas tree ornaments to support the children of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Every ornament purchased will provide a pair of shoes for a TLC child. If you were around for our Christmas fundraiser last year, you know that the ornaments are hand-painted by the TLC kids! What you may not know is that it takes months of planning and the collaboration of many TLC sponsors and friends to get the ornaments tree-ready. From conception to final product, this year’s fundraiser has engaged the talents of people around the United States and of every TLC child in Addis.

Each summer, a group of college students travels from the States to Addis to volunteer with and learn from the TLC team. One of the many things these volunteers do is bring the ornaments with them for the kiddos to get creative with and then keep track of each hand-painted ornament so sponsors can purchase the ornament painted by the child they sponsor. This summer, Matt and Rachel Marshall of Jackson, TN, led a team of volunteers to Addis where the children painted a circular wooden base, which would later be overlaid with a wooden cutout of the TrueLight flame. 

Artist, professor, and TLC sponsor Heather Hornbeak of Nicholasville, KY, has been instrumental in TLC’s design and web presence. Creator of the TLC logo, which utilizes a flame above the word “light,” Heather adapted the TrueLight flame for the overlay of this year’s ornaments, representing both TLC’s mission as well as the light of Christ that Christmas celebrates.

Designed to use a single piece of wood for each overlay, the outline was then forwarded to a team in Tennessee where they would be shaped with a laser cutter. Indigenous Outreach International board member and former Media Coordinator/Storyteller Aaron Hardin used his access to a laser cutter at a co-working space in Jackson, TN, to help bring the vision for this year’s Christmas ornaments to fruition.  

“I hope that the children embrace all the wonderful opportunities available at TLC and grow up to bless their own families and community,” said Aaron of the TLC children. 

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Next, the ornament bases and overlays went to Corinth, MS, where Richard Tenhet, TLC sponsor and Anna’s dad, volunteered his home workshop for assembly, where he normally works on household projects, builds birdhouses and wind chimes, and enjoys craft projects with his grandchildren. After determining the best orientation for each ornament based on each child’s painting, Richard drilled a hole into the base for the ornament string. He then painted the backs of each base, applied a label designed by South Carolina-based sponsor Josh Garcia, glued the overlays to the bases, and threaded a string to each ornament.

  Left: Anna Worley and Aaron Hardin chipping away at the laser cutter. Right: Richard Tenhet gluing the ornament overlays to the bases. 

Left: Anna Worley and Aaron Hardin chipping away at the laser cutter. Right: Richard Tenhet gluing the ornament overlays to the bases. 

“These ornaments are a picture of the work of our ministry,” said Anna, who is based in Chicago and oversaw the ornament creation from start to finish. “It’s a collaboration of people from all over—from Ethiopia and the States—working together, using the gifts God has given us to encourage and help each other.”

Anna says it’s encouraging to see so many people come together, for this project and for others throughout the year, to use their gifts and abilities used to support the physical, educational, and spiritual well being of the TLC children.

The work TLC does for our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia is fueled by the generosity of sponsors and friends who contribute their resources and talents. If you would like to do more for TLC but aren’t sure how, contact Anna Worley at annaworley@ioiusa.org. You can also buy a Christmas ornament below!