It was Thanksgiving, and Christine stood in the alley outside her mother’s backyard, listening to her family celebrate. She could smell the freshly baked turkey. She could hear the laughter. Growing up, Thanksgiving was one of her favorite holidays, a day filled with love and warm memories. But not anymore. She was no longer welcome. This year, her Thanksgiving dinner would come from a dumpster.
“My lowest, lowest, lowest”
“By 2012, I was living behind a CVS,” she says. “I met an old man who built us a tent, and later a tree house, to sleep in. That was my lowest, lowest, lowest. I didn’t shower. My hair was knotted. I lost my teeth. And I ate pre-packaged food I found in dumpsters. Sometimes, I’d go days without eating. If I wasn’t high, I got really hungry.” In 2014, her beloved father died and her only son went to prison. Devastated and ashamed, Christine knew it was time to change. She came to Hope Gardens to get the help she needed.
New Gratitude in a Garden of Hope
After a few days she began to feel the love and opened up. She continues, “And over the next three years, I developed a relationship with a God who loves me, and I found a family of sisters who not only cared about me, but they showed me who I really am—I am Christine, child of God. I am beautiful.”
She also fell in love with Thanksgiving again. “Hope Gardens was my family, and the Thanksgivings we spent together were the best ever.”
"God answered all my prayers,” she says. “I am so grateful for the donors who made this all possible. You saved me. You gave me the chance to be the woman God created me to be. I can never thank you enough for that.”
Today, Christine is the woman God created her to be—a loving mother, daughter, and friend. She is a full-time employee at Union Rescue Mission, and she has reconciled with her mother and children. She is even taking care of her son again. For the first time in years, she will spend Thanksgiving with her own family—in her own home again.
Help more hurting people devastated by homelessness, like Christine, find their way home for Thanksgiving.
A THANKSGIVING FEAST FOR SOME ...
A THANKSGIVING FAMINE FOR OTHERS
Over the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, most of us who live in Los Angeles will be busy planning and preparing for a day filled with savory turkey, dressing, stuffing, pumpkin pies, and more. For millions of others, it will just be one more day of hunger.
Nearly 2 million people in Los Angeles County do not know where their next meal is coming from. Many are seniors on fixed incomes or low-income families. A growing number of working individuals and families also can’t afford to put enough food on the table, because of rising housing and transportation costs.
Thanks to you, Union Rescue Mission will serve more than 300,000 meals this Thanksgiving season—and more than 2,500 meals at our Thanksgiving celebration alone!
“I needed a place to stay and I wanted to be in a stable Christian community. The Mission fed me, gave me clothes, all of that. But the most important thing is, they raised me up in the Word of God, and they gave me purpose and direction.”
“We were so poor, our Thanksgiving dinners were made only from whatever food other people gave us. But it wasn’t just Thanksgivings that were hard. We had so little money, we rarely lived in
the same place for more than a year.”
“Me and my children lived in a truck, until it was repossessed. Then we lived in a motel. I lost everything. Then I learned about Hope Gardens. I knew it was the right choice for my children. They’d have their own beds, showers, and three meals a day.”
THANKS TO YOUR GENEROSITY, THOSE DEVASTATED BY HOMELESSNESS HAVE HOPE AND A FUTURE
Your gift will help transform more lives at Thanksgiving. Will you give today?
A THANKSGIVING TIMELINE
YOUR GIFTS AT WORK THIS THANKSGIVING
Every precious soul on Skid Row deserves to experience the joy of a family-style Thanksgiving. That’s why every year, Union Rescue Mission throws them a giant celebration, including … 4,000 pounds of turkey, 3,300 pounds of potatoes, 2,000 pounds of stuffing, and 4,100 pieces of pie!
Here’s a brief timeline of what happens on this very special day!
Turkey Fry, 11/22 8:00 A.M. – 3:00 A.M.
Volunteers and URM staff work in shifts to deep fry 500 turkeys. Thanksgiving Event, 11/23 4:00 A.M. – 9:00 A.M.
Staff and volunteers begin arriving to set up tables, chairs, canopies, a stage, sound equipment, and electrical hookups. Other volunteers arrive to help prepare food in the kitchen.
9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M.
Volunteers arrive to set up dining area and dessert room.
10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.
Bounce house and performers arrive for our kids and families to enjoy.
11:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
URM’s Thanksgiving event includes food, live music, games, and activities for kids.
2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Cleanup begins after a day of great food and gratitude.
Give meals for $2.54 to help bless more hurting people this Thanksgiving.
The IRA Rollover Is a Simple, Easy Way to Help Neighbors in Need
If you are 70 1/2, you may roll over up to $100,000 from your IRA to charity without paying any federal income tax on your gift.
To make an IRA rollover gift, simply contact your custodian and request that an amount be transferred to Union Rescue Mission. You’ll help neighbors devastated by homelessness escape from the streets and find new life in Christ. Your gift could be $1,000, $10,000, $50,000, or even $100,000.
For more information about how an IRA rollover can benefit you and the Mission, please contact:
Rosie Perez, firstname.lastname@example.org
THANKSGIVING DINNER AND A WAY HOME
With your help
For most people, Thanksgiving is a day of warmth, love, family, and gratitude. But for people devastated by homelessness, it’s too often a day of painful memories of wrong turns, families lost, and forgotten love.
You can give hurting people hope, a taste of home, and the chance to start over this Thanksgiving. Please help today.
With volunteers cooking and serving, and with generous donations from local markets, each Thanksgiving meal you generously provide costs just $2.54. We expect to serve more than 100,000 meals to hungry men, women, and children this Thanksgiving season.
Your Gift Will Change Lives!
$25.40 shares 10 meals and life-changing care
$50.80 gives 20 meals and help to escape the streets
With more people hungry and on the streets, your gift is needed now more than ever. Please give today!
NOTES FROM ANDY
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Several years ago, in Iowa, I preached a sermon on Matthew 25 to a room full of Christian students to teach them how important it is to take care of people who are poor and hungry—in fact, it’s like feeding Jesus Himself.
Later that evening, I went to my job as a parking lot attendant. Suddenly, a man approached me, hungry and disheveled, and asked me for a sandwich. I looked right through him and said “no.” Hurt, he walked away into the darkness. And it hit me. I failed to practice what I preached. But that moment changed my life. From that point on, I looked at every hurting man, woman, child who is struggling with hunger and homelessness, and I saw Jesus. More important, “I was determined to do something about it.”
That’s why I’m so grateful for people like you. As a friend of Union Rescue Mission, you refuse to look through people devastated by homelessness—and you act. You serve Jesus. May God bless you.
You don’t want to miss Andy’s blog!
Check out revandysblog.com.