NASHVILLE (BP) -- As much of the U.S. was weathering another heat wave this summer, LifeWay Christian Store employees were busy breaking out some Christmas decorations.
The reason for the yuletide displays is the "Christmas in July" service projects offered through LifeWay.
"The Christmas season is all about giving, but that spirit of giving should extend beyond the months of November and December," said Nathan Magness, marketing strategist for the bookstore chain. "As believers, we should always look for opportunities to give back all year long."
Each week in July, guests can visit any LifeWay store to build care packages for different mission or service-focused groups or organizations.
-- through July 7: Military servicemen and women
-- July 9-14: Local homeless ministries
-- July 16-21: Disaster relief
-- July 23-28: North American missionaries
LifeWay will provide hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, sanitizing wipes and other supplies for guests to create care packages. Guests can write encouraging notes while younger children can draw pictures to send with the packages.
From July 16-21, LifeWay is partnering with the North American Mission Board's Send Relief arm to provide supplies for people in disaster relief areas. The following week, care packages will be created for NAMB missionaries.
As guests celebrate Christmas in July at LifeWay stores, they'll notice the festive trees aren't just for decoration. The trees also hold Operation Christmas Child ornaments that provide an opportunity for guests to bless children around the world.
"We've partnered with Samaritan's Purse for a unique opportunity," Magness said. "During the month of July, customers can purchase a $6 ornament -- the proceeds of which will provide a Bible and 'The Greatest Journey' to a child in need."
The Greatest Journey is a follow-up discipleship course for children who have received a shoebox through Operation Christmas Child.
LifeWay stores are closed on Sundays.
In operation for more than 90 years, LifeWay Christian Stores is the nation's largest Christian bookstore chain with more than 170 stores throughout the U.S. The stores are owned and operated by Nashville-based LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.