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Those meandering downtown with visions of sugarplums might also get a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas – and it comes with free hot cocoa.

An easy-to-find, bedecked tour truck will be the centerpiece of “The True Meaning of Christmas Tour” festivities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 3 at AT&T Performing Arts Center on the northwest corner of Flora and Jack Evans streets.

The truck is hitting the road in 16 states this year as The United Methodist Church visits 21 cities to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas. First United Methodist Church of Dallas (FUMC), St. Paul UMC and Christ’s Foundry UMC will host the come-and-go event. The whole community is invited.

Giving back to the community is part of the package. There will be a collection of socks and gloves for Dallas Bethlehem Center as well as snacks or paper goods for the Wesley-Rankin Community Center to benefit children and families in need. Financial donations can also be made through FUMC’s FirstGifts Christmas Market that supports ministries and non-profit agencies.

“We want to offer our community a different type of gift: an opportunity to celebrate what Christmas is all about by engaging in service with neighbors, boosting joy and building relationships with others,” said the Rev. Holly Bandel with FUMC of Dallas. “We are also extending an invitation to attend a place of worship or become part of a faith community.”

A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013 indicated that the activities that people least liked at Christmas time are the commercialism/materialism, money/expense, and shopping/crowds. What they most look forward to is spending time with family and friends (69%) and religious reflection/church (11%).

“This tour is a unique way for the church to reach out to people who are experiencing loneliness or who want to give back to the community at this significant time of year,” said Dan Krause, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, which is coordinating the month-long expedition. “More than 500 volunteers from local United Methodist churches are partnering with us to make this a multi-state effort.”

The True Meaning of Christmas tour will stop in 21 cities, Dec. 2 through Dec. 24. Follow the tour online at UnwrapChristmas.org and #UnwrapChristmas.

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