Troi shares in her own words why Christmas is special again
Thanks to you, this struggling mom with five kids is finding the joy of Christmas again.
I was 21 when I experienced my first Christmas ever. Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, we didn’t celebrate holidays — no birthdays, no Christmases, no presents, nothing.
That can be hard on a kid, especially at school. While the other kids did all kinds of fun Christmas things, I had to sit at my desk, doing puzzles or something. It was just one more reason I was so unhappy and lonely as a child.
“I wasn’t ready to handle the world”
As I grew older, I started to rebel and left home at 18. Looking back, I really wasn’t ready to handle the world. I moved in with a boyfriend, we started having kids, and life just got harder. I had almost no job skills and a spotty work history. And by my late 20s, I was a single mother with four kids, spending more than half my paychecks on rent alone. I just kept falling further behind.
When I could no longer afford rent, I tried living with different family members. When that didn’t work, I had to live in motel rooms. I was running out of options and money.
“Last Christmas was the hardest”
Every year, I was determined to give my kids the kind of Christmases I never had — presents, treats, holiday music, and a tree full of decorations. But it got harder and harder.
By Fall 2016, my kids and I had nowhere else to go. I tried going to women’s shelters, but there was a waiting list, and I couldn’t wait. That’s when I came to Union Rescue Mission, and then Hope Gardens.
Last Christmas was the hardest.
I felt like a failure as a mother. The one real blessing was the Christmas Store at URM. Despite everything, I got to pick out gifts for my kids — gifts they loved. Gifts I got to give to them. Christmas was special after all.
“Christmas...is going to be special again”
Today, we’re all at Hope Gardens and our lives are finally looking up. We’re learning more about God and how to give everything over to Him. My children are blossoming in every way. I plan to get my GED and later go into the medical field.
With so many good things happening, I’m already looking forward to Christmas. It’s going to be special again. Not because of all the presents and decorations, but because we’re all together, healthy, and — just like the old Christmas movie — celebrating a wonderful life.
Give a meal and transform lives this holiday season!
“I think I understand Jesus better now, because He was born in a barn and was homeless just like me. Sometimes I feel like people get so busy eating good food, singing Christmas carols, and passing around presents that they’ve lost the meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn’t about presents, it’s about the birth of Jesus.” —
“Christmas is hard when your parents don’t have any money. I hope this Christmas we’ll be in a new home. But no matter where we are, I know we’ll be OK. After all, Jesus was born in a stable — but He changed the whole world. The Christmas story has taught me that I can’t lose hope. I may not see a miracle right away, but I’m going to do whatever God asks.” — Jocelyn, 15
“This Christmas, I hope we’re still here at Hope Gardens. I like seeing my mom, and my brother and sister, so happy. To me, that’s what makes Christmas so special — all the happiness and smiles on everyone’s faces. This Christmas I have just one wish: that my family could have a better life. Thanks to Hope Gardens, I think I’ll get my wish.” — Maurice, 14
“I pretty much always got everything I wanted for Christmas. But I don’t want any presents this year. Hope Gardens is helping my mom start her own business so we can move into a new house. That’s my Christmas wish.” — Kira, 11
Stories from Skid Row
When you watch Daisy’s story, your heart will be overwhelmed by the incredible work of God as He transformed Daisy’s broken life into a captivating story of restoration — for her and her two girls.
Thanksgiving and Christmas can be difficult for families experiencing homelessness. But for 27 years, Union Rescue Mission’s Christmas Store has brought joy into their lives when they needed it most.
This year, thousands of precious children at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center will receive brand-new gifts because of the 27th annual Christmas Store.
On December 13, moms and dads with little or no income will enjoy the dignity of being able to provide their children with gifts they select themselves (for free) and give to their children personally.
All year-round, Union Rescue Mission embraces people with the compassion of Christ. And thanks to the Christmas Store — and generous friends like you — hundreds of families will find that new hope this holiday season.
For information about donating toys to the Christmas Store this year, please contact Albert Juanico at (213) 673-4856.
Please Bless Hurting Men, Women, and Children this Holiday Season
No one ever plans to wake up on Skid Row on Christmas morning. While most people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with great gifts, great food, and loved ones, increasing numbers of men, women, and children on Skid Row face the prospect of spending the day with no food and not even a home.
But not at Union Rescue Mission. This Christmas, more families than ever before will spend the holiday at URM and Hope Gardens. But they will wake up with Christmas joy, thanks to generous people like you who remind those who are hurting that someone cares.
This holiday season, family homelessness in Los Angeles is skyrocketing, and the numbers are devastating at Union Rescue Mission. In 2010, the height of the Great Recession, 450 families came through URM. This year, we’ve served nearly 1,100 families.
The holidays are a really difficult time for families experiencing homelessness. Like Troi, they feel like “failures” when they can’t provide Christmas for their kids. That’s why URM’s annual Christmas Store is so important — to empower parents to provide for their children, and to offer dignity and joy to families struggling through the hardest time of their lives.
And all the gifts that stock our Christmas Store are brand-new and donated by special friends and partners with URM, so it doesn’t cost us — or you — anything.
But the Christmas Store is about much more than providing a little holiday joy. Christmas is when God sent His most precious Son Jesus to a lost world.
When we are at our worst, God loves us the most. So that’s what we do at Union Rescue Mission. When precious families come to us facing the worst circumstances, that’s when we love them the most.