COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO—Rescue missions across North America have planned a variety of Christmas activities to meet some very specific needs of hungry, homeless, and at-risk individuals present in their communities, according to The Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM).
“Christmas resonates with extraordinary depth at rescue missions,” notes AGRM President John Ashmen. “Some of that can be traced to our common history as faith-based organizations focused on the life and work of Jesus. There is also the reality that the holidays, especially Christmas, can be exceptionally challenging for those facing hunger and homelessness. You remember better times, and naturally wonder why this year is so difficult. It’s especially tough on children, who often don’t understand why their Christmas can’t be like that of their peers at school.”
The more sophisticated some Christmas gifts have become for children in recent years, the more pronounced a family’s needs can become to a child, Ashmen adds. “Think of the number of gaming systems, computer equipment, and electronic toys that so many children will find under their tree on Christmas morning,” he says. “The practical realities of homelessness—or even being at risk of homelessness—make those impractical to even think about for the children our missions serve. Yet those are the very things that will probably be talked about most in schoolyards and classrooms in January. “
He continues, “That’s one reason why it’s important to offer the things that can make the Christmas holiday special for everyone our missions reach. That begins by securing basics like food and warm clothing—traditional mainstays of Christmas drives and events at rescue missions—and often quickly expands to special items like toys and games for children like that are both enjoyable and portable.”
This reality is reflected in rescue mission Christmas events across North America this year.
The Las Vegas (Nevada) Rescue Mission is typical of many rescue missions that actively collect both food and toys during the holiday season. The Las Vegas mission conducts these drives through collection points located throughout the greater Las Vegas community. Dozens of local businesses host the collection points. Many of the goods received will be part of the food and gifts distributed at the mission’s annual dinner on Christmas Eve.
Mission of Hope in Mobile, Alabama is conducting its annual “Children of Hope Tree.” The online event allows donors to provide gift cards that will secure Christmas gifts for children of mission clients currently enrolled in its addiction recovery programs. Prospective donors can choose one such child to support, and then send the gift card into the mission. This year’s effort has already provided assistance to more than 100 children.
Kokomo (Indiana) Rescue Mission’s Red Ribbon Christmas Outreach provides boxes of toys, gifts, food, and toiletries for families throughout the six-county area served by the mission. The Kokomo mission is orchestrating volunteer drivers to deliver more than 1,000 Red Ribbon Boxes again this year. The delivery is scheduled for Saturday morning, December 19.
The Crossroads Mission of Yuma, Arizona has spread its Christmas meals service to three days in 2014. From 11 am – 1 pm on December 23, 24 and 25, the mission will host Christmas celebrations, where it anticipates serving more than 1,000 meals each day. The Yuma mission has extended an invitation to those in need and community members for the meals, where volunteers provide the desserts.
“It’s always fun to see how creativity blends with rescue mission tradition in so many holiday events,” Ashmen says. “Christmas offers a truly remarkable opportunity for our members to extend the radical hospitality of Jesus across the continent. Once again, we are grateful for people in the communities where our missions serve who so generously give of their time and resources to make our outreach possible.”
Volunteer and donation opportunities through local AGRM-member rescue missions can be found at http://www.agrm.org/agrm/Locate_a_Mission.asp.
Now in its 102nd year, AGRM has nearly 300 rescue mission members across North America. AGRM members serve approximately 50 million meals, provide 25 million nights of shelter and housing, distribute 30 million pieces of clothing, bandage the wounds of hundreds of abuse victims, and graduate more than 20,000 homeless men and women from addiction recovery programs into productive living.
Rescue missions have been providing hospitality to the poor in America since the 1870s. They are experts at providing effective care for men, women, and children who are hungry, homeless, abused, or addicted.
AGRM is North America’s oldest and largest network of crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers, offering radical hospitality in the name of Jesus. For more information, please visit www.agrm.org.
To schedule an interview with AGRM president John Ashmen, please contact Brad Lewis, Director of Communications, at email@example.com or call (719) 266-8300, ext. 103.