Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Wow what a day. Thanks to an article in the newspaper we had 146 volunteers make 1000 sack lunches in 35 minutes. We knocked on 800 doors and distributed 800 sack lunches to those who were home. The numbers went like this they are all approx. 300 at Trailer Parks, 300 Garden Square, 200 at Pine Valley. The 200 left-overs were taken to the Favor's Christmas party. I later learned that they were running out of food and the left-overs saved the day. We also found about 20 families whose Christmas wasn't going so well. There was a family with a 3 and 4 year old and an infant without presents. One man who was alone said he hadn't received a Christmas gift in years. He got a whole bunch this year. Another woman had just lost her family to death(children and husband, I believe) she was alone in a trailer with no food and no furniture except for a TV. I realize that I am very blessed and I thank God for all of those who stepped forward to help. Below is the news article that caused so many people to volunteer it was published on Christmas Eve in the Kokomo Tribune, by writer Othello Bach.

True Christmas Giving

By Othello Bach

One frigid Christmas Eve when I was six, my mother had no choice but to take her seven children to the Salvation Army. Bundled up in practically every stitch we owned, and with gunny sacks tied around feet to trudge through the snow, we walked from our shack outside the city limits to a small church where the Salvation Army Santa was supposed to hand out gifts.

My sisters and I had prayed for rubber dolls for weeks. Maybe our prayer would be answered.

I have no idea how far we walked but it seemed like miles, and once there, a crowd jammed the door. Mother kept saying, “I have children here. Please, let us in.” My three older brothers ran around the church and entered through another door. They wanted to get up front, hoping for a better gift.

When we finally wiggled our way inside and squeezed onto a pew, the stifling heat and stench of wet wool coats made me nauseous. We heard Santa “ho-ho-ho-ing” in the front of the room but couldn’t see him. Then we were told to hold up our hands so a lady could bring us presents.

We held our arms as high as we could, but after a while, our elbows sagged. “Keep you hands up!” mother whispered franticly. “Keep them up so you’ll get present.”

We tried. But she had to tell us several times. It was so crowded we just couldn’t be seen. My little sisters began to cry. “Please!” mother called repeatedly. “Over here! I have small children!” When she was finally noticed, a smiling lady handed her three gifts. Instantly our hopes for a doll vanished. The gifts were far too small.

My sisters and I received little rubber trucks.

However, the walk home wasn’t too bad; one of my brothers received a pair of stilts and entertained us stumbling about in the snow. The others received a baseball and bat—plus, our unwanted rubber trucks.

Last night, at Trinity Methodist Church, I watched Pastor Jeff Newton hand out gifts to children whose parents are also experiencing difficult times. One little boy, five or six years old, began to cry because he thought he had been forgotten. But even after he received a gift, he continued to cry. A few minutes later I learned he didn’t like his gift.

That’s when my memory returned like a bolt of lightening, and I suddenly had to blink back tears.

It may appear that a child is selfish and ungrateful to cry in such a circumstance, but when situations seem particularly hopeless, one more disappointment can be unbearable. Then today, I learned that after the program ended, the boy received the gift he longed for: a toy truck! Decades ago, I cried because I got one; last night, he cried because he didn’t!

I hope everyone reading this will consider helping Pastor Jeff Newton fulfill his incredible mission. He established the Kokomo Urban Outreach three years ago, and that year served approximately 50 families. This year, he has served 25,000 meals... so far.

Kokomo Urban Outreach has two locations where 300 dinners are served each week, and in three other locations there are food pantries that provide food to neighborhood families. Pastor Newton and his generous volunteer staff will distribute 1000 Christmas Day sack lunches, but he still needs help packing and delivering on Christmas Day. Packing will begin at 10 AM Christmas Day and deliveries will be made between 11 and 12. If you can help for even one hour, your assistance will be deeply and sincerely appreciated.

As the economy weakens, the number in need will increase each week. Hunger and need do not end after

Christmas. Pastor Jeff constantly needs help keeping the pantries full and continuing to do the work of Kokomo

Urban Outreach. His phone number is: 461-9618. You’ll never regret lending a hand.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Miracles

After the miracle of serving 840 people Thanksgiving at 5 locations the following miracles occurred:

  • Bags and Bags of clothing etc were given to the Outreach. The mound reached the ceiling in our clothing room. A group from Chapel Hill came and sorted it all.
  • Wasn't sure how we would secure volunteers for Christmas break lunches received a call from a volunteer named Monica from Delphi, she asked to be put on staff because she recruited help for every day. I gave her a staff T shirt.
  • Food has been provided out of nowhere for daily Christmas vacation meals at Pine Valley and Trinity.
  • Milk came on just before our first day for meals. Fifty- one gallons.
  • The food pantry gets used to the max each week. Yet God continues to keep it full.
  • Needed 1000 pieces of fruit for sack lunches, was just about ready to put out an email plea and a local orchard called and donated 1200 apples.
  • The Bishop of the United Methodist Church visited and preached at Trinity on the 14th. He oversees 1200 churches in Indiana and usually only goes to churches that invite him for special occasions. He called me to come here. That visit was wonderful and the bishop has been talking about us to various groups. We received a nice check from someone he spoke to. Let's say it will provide thousands of meals.
  • Another fine man brought a large check to us out of the blue.
  • We received a $1400.00 grant to start food service at two new sites.
  • We have received 100's of hats, gloves, and socks. I did say hundreds.
  • We added a Secret Santa Site. We needed 600 presents for children to give to their parents. We have more than enough.
  • Christmas gifts keep pouring in and we think by the time all is said and done every Sidewalk Sunday School Child will have a gift.
  • We have had some awesome new volunteers join our more experienced volunteers
  • A brand new stove has been given to the trailer site by a Sunday School Class at Russiaville UMC.
  • Two freezer have been given to the Outreach one is for the trailer.
  • Money has been provided to buy kitchen appliances at two of our sites.
  • Roasters are are being provided to new site.
  • My family sorted and packed all of the Secret Santa Stuff
  • Wasn't sure how we were going to pass out 400 fliers in the trailer park to tell them about Secret Santa, Darren and his group, said no problem we have got it covered. Wow.
  • We are confident that the new Riley Modern site will open the first of January.
  • The first Cycle of Baby College is fully funded(almost $3,000)
  • Buddy Bag Sponsor need just completed.
All of the above happened during the last 23 days. Praise God!!!!