Photo by Lynda Edwards

ALBANY – Gifts for Guns is a successful Christmas tradition at Albany’s Victory Church, where people hand over illegal guns in exchange for a Visa gift card.

For 10 years, Pastor Charlie Mueller oversaw the program, this year teaming up with the Albany County District Attorney to organize the safe deposit of guns and handguns at Quail Street Church. Mueller has a hoodie emblazoned with the words, “Live God, Love Hope, Change the World.” He wants the arms exchange to change the world to a safer one for city neighborhoods.

But that’s not all the energetic, dedicated and diverse congregation of Victory did for the community this Christmas. Church members purchased and wrapped gifts for 500 children placed in group homes. The volunteers also filled stockings with M & Ms, Snickers, Milky Way and other candy for each child.

This year, Victory Church opened a “free store” for foster children and those who are 18 and aging outside the system. The store is tucked inside the first floor of the office building that Victory Church owns on Central Avenue in Albany. Foster children can get clothing, personal care items, cleaning and housekeeping supplies for free or for a nominal fee at the store.

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