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Amityville church pairs Christmas gift-giving, Christian messages

Nine-year-old Nyla Akines of Wyandanch, left, receives a

Nine-year-old Nyla Akines of Wyandanch, left, receives a new bike from Paster Jimmy Jack at the Freedom Chapel International Worship Center in Amityville on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Credit: Kristy Leibowitz

Yasmine Hardy came to Freedom Chapel International Worship Center in Amityville expecting to enjoy Christmas festivities Saturday.

The 9-year-old left with a free, pink bicycle. "I was shocked," she said, grinning about having a lucky raffle ticket.

She was among more than 500 children at the church's 15th annual Freedom Kids Christmas Outreach, designed to share a positive message about Christian faith and love to children from Wyandanch, Copiague, Amityville and other communities impacted by gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, and family stress.

"We do this because we realize that the children so need a foundation of godly values," church Pastor Jimmy Jack said.

"We share with them the love of Jesus and Christmas -- that Jesus is the reason for the season -- and that they have a unique purpose in life."

The day included a giveaway of about 100 new bicycles, 600 stockings filled with candy, toy flutes, yo-yos, whistles -- and free lunch, as well as games and a hip-hop youth dancing performance.

Vincent Vetere, a magician whose business is based in Hauppauge, was a draw. Children leaned in, dazzled as he seemingly turned a dove into a white rabbit, sprinkling in Bible stories.

"Everything I do is just a simple trick; there's no real magic behind anything. Only God makes miracles," he told the children.

Amir Temple, 6, of Amityville, said he had fun taking part in a trick that looked as though he was floating in midair on the tip of a folding chair.

Donna Clarke, 52, of Amityville, who attends the church and brought her 6-year-old grandson Jaylen Scott, said the event was "wonderful."

"I believe it brings people together and it's a way for the kids to learn about Jesus," she said. "A lot of these kids are at an impressionable age . . . and this is the best time to get them."

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