Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gathering Gifts for the Poor (Advocating for the Vulnerable #7)

Dear friends,

Welcome back to my Advocating for the Vulnerable series.  This time, let's talk about caring for the poor. This is a huge topic.  I'm only going to give you a tiny little sliver from my own recent and near future experience in collecting items to give to the disadvantaged. (You can read about past ministry projects here.)  A little here, a little there adds up.   We love to partner with other people and organizations who have great ideas.  Here are three: one with a global outreach to children, one to migrant worker families, and another to the downtown homeless.

Operation Christmas Child

Ever year, our church's Sunday School kids love participating in the Operation Christmas Child program from Samaritan's Purse.  In the fall, the organizer, Debora Lisle, asks folks in the congregation to bring in small gifts such as toys, school and craft supplies, hygiene items, and other goodies for children living in impoverished regions of the world.  The kids then spend a lot of their class time for several weeks assembling and filling the bright red and green boxes.  I am astounded by how many boxes they do considering Lake Baldwin is a small church and on any given Sunday there are only 30-40 elementary age kids.  (The exact number of boxes this year is a secret to be revealed in church next month, but I can tell you it is in the hundreds.)  Then we have a party where we load them into cars and take them to the local drop-off point, Northland Church.  

This semi at Northland is already full!

OK, that's pretty global.  They're estimating that this year will mark 100,000,000 gift boxes since 1993!  Please go check out the web site, Operation Christmas Child.  It's not too late to donate.  If you don't have time to fill a box yourself, you or your child can still have the fun of picking out the gifts online with their Build-a-Box program. 

DeNeef Village

I don't know a lot about this, but I do know that my friend Allura Lightfoot at Metro Life Church has been taking a group out to the DeNeef Village migrant trailer camp in Apopka twice a month to serve the families there.  They are gathering Christmas gifts for the children, as well as gift baskets for the moms.  

Lights on the RiverI asked the students in my home school co-op English class to bring in items for the mom's gift baskets, and we've been able to fill two so far.  To get them in the spirit, I brought in the picture book Lights on the River by Jane Resh Thomas, which is about the plight of impoverished migrant workers.  It's one of my favorite books, and I warned them that I would cry when I read it.  I think it made quite an impression on them. 

I also asked Allura about putting together first aid bags for the families with bandages, individually packaged antibacterial wipes and other items.   She said that any family with kids would appreciate that! I'm scheming how to pull that off.  If you want to help out with that -- especially with supplies or money -- let me know.

I'll try to write more about migrant workers in the future.  I'd even like to go visit DeNeef.  I'll bet you have migrant communities in your area, too.  Are any churches or organizations reaching out to them?

Homeless in Downtown Orlando

There are many fine organizations working with the homeless in Orlando and I applaud what they are doing.  But individual people can make a difference, too.  My daughter Julia Corbett has a heart for ministering to the homeless and those in crisis pregnancies. (Allura has been a wonderful mentor!)  Two years ago, Julia organized a clothing and blanket drive.  I was amazed at how much stuff showed up at Metro Life Church.  She also packaged up snack bags and put a Gospel of John in each one.  Her team loaded it all up, took it downtown, and started handing them out.  They were able to bless about 50 people.  I just found out that she and her husband are going to do it again in early January.  I think I might try to do some first aid bags for this project, too.  I don't know all of the details yet, but if you're interested, let me know!

In the meantime, you can visit these web sites to learn about helping the homeless in Orlando.

I hope this inspires you to do something, big or small, with your family to bless the needy in your community and around the globe.

You may also wish to read these posts:

Other posts in the Advocating for the Vulnerable Series

Do justice, love mercy!

Virginia Knowles