Food, Clothing, Shelter and Love: Local Citizens Live to Give

 

By Lisa Moore

 

“I’ve been homeless, I’ve been wet, I’ve been cold, I’ve been hungry, I’ve been a single mom,” said Joy McGuire. “Groceries were a luxury to me, much less Christmas.”

 

McGuire overcame her past and eight years ago was called to start With Love From Jesus, an organization dedicated to ministering to the needy, afflicted and hurting people in Union, Mecklenburg and 7 other counties by providing food, clothing, furniture and spiritual guidance.

 

McGuire describes her mission as “giving and living with love for Jesus.” She claims food is the biggest need she encounters and she feeds 4336 people a month with food donated from three stores and collections from food drives.

“We hang about 115,000 paper bags on doors a year. People just don’t have a clue how many people they are blessing when they give,” McGuire said.

 

With Love From Jesus gave away 17,000 Christmas gifts last year and expects to do more this year. The organization serves the homeless as well as those enduring rough times- illness or death in the family, unemployment and medical bills- situations that make it difficult to make ends meet.

 

“How many paychecks can we actually go without before it really hurts us? Many of us are a paycheck or two from being where these people are,” noted McGuire. Surprisingly, on a daily basis the organization is run by McGuire and one other person from her home. In her backyard she has a 2-story building, a 3-room detached garage, a 53 ft. trailer and 10 tents that hold donated and bought items.

 

During December 13-23 hundreds will pass through for gifts, wrapping paper, tags, tape and food for an enjoyable Christmas experience. “They come here one person and leave another,” said McGuire. On Christmas Eve McGuire delivers 250 gift bags to the homeless and spends a few hours with them. Operated on a shoestring budget, McGuire welcomes both material and monetary donations as well as volunteers to walk people through the gifting process.

“Anything would be a blessing,” she said.

 

With Love From Jesus is in need of new toys for all ages and clothes, shoes and gifts for the families that will visit. There is a particular need of items for newborns, teens and the elderly and socks and thermals for the homeless. To contribute call 704-882-6389 or 704-635-0229.

 

Women Bond to Honor and Serve
Loved Ones Luncheon

 

When Jane Hixson lost her mother-in-law and then her mother, she experienced emotions she didn’t know what to do with. She wanted to do something positive that would celebrate these women and the impact they had on her, while helping people in real need.

Eleven years ago she started the Loved Ones Luncheon, a fundraising event for women only, honoring those who have touched their lives by touching others. The event, which has raised over $78,000 since its inception, benefits the clients of the Crisis Assistance Ministry.

 

The Loved Ones Luncheon is a way for women to connect, share stories about encouragement, laugh, eat, win prizes and help the less fortunate. Many use their donations as Christmas gifts – purchasing heat, electricity and sometimes the rent a family in crisis needs to stay in their homes.

 

One recipient told Hixson that when she moved to Charlotte, Crisis Assistance Ministry truly helped her. Through their assistance, she was able to establish herself and eventually fulfill her dream of owning her own business. Without that help she probably would have moved back home.

 

“It is shocking to realize that many people could avoid disaster in their lives if they had a little boost,” Hixson said. “Just one month can make the difference for the rest of their lives.”

 

Hixson’s biggest wish is that people would decide not to give Christmas or birthday gifts, but to give that money to charity. Instead of getting a bracelet, scarf or a new TV, they could help a person could get the emergency funds they desperately need.

 

“Someone could get that break that might be the very thing that will enable them to stay in their home, feel a sense of security and know that someone really cares for them,” said Hixson. “What a gift!”

 

For information on how to contribute, contact Hixson at 704-334-8088 or Doug Hartsis of Crisis Assistance Ministry
at 704-371-3001 ext. 143.

 

Sharing Their Blessings
Wednesday Santa Service Group

 

Susan White oversees a staff of elves all year long. Four years ago Providence Road Church of Christ started a project to help others have a better holiday. The normal Wednesday evening class and bible study became a time to plan for ways to make the holidays brighter for others. “Because we are so blessed we wanted to give back to others in need,” said White, the community outreach coordinator.

 

White was originally given a budget by the church of $3000 which sounds like a lot. But when you are trying to help a thousand people, it becomes a tight budget. “I started out buying all the items myself, but I now have elves that search for bargains all year long and purchase them from their own pockets,” she said.

 

Standing at the bus stop can be cold in the mornings. White and crew take stretchy gloves and fill them with small toys, holiday pencils, gum, a toothbrush and gives them to A Child’s Place, an organization that works with children in need within the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System.

 

Blankets that have been filled with toothbrushes, combs, soap and candy canes are given to nursing home and hospice patients to warm their tired bodies and spirits.

 

A Room in the Inn at the church provides a place for a hot meal, shower, a bed and breakfast. “During one of our project nights we fill 250 gallon zip lock bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors and combs, so each person can be refreshed during the stay,” said White.

 

Women and children at the battered women’s shelter usually leave their homes with nothing. The church group fills teacups with tea bags and nice chocolate so they can be placed in the holiday store at the facility. Children can come in and pick out something for their moms for a Christmas gift.

 

“I sometimes see a person walking downtown wearing a hat or scarf that we gifted,” White said, noting the joy that brings to her. We just seek to share what we have been so blessed with.”

 

To donate, contact White at 704-364-0748.

 

Pedaling for Joy
The Spokes Group

 

In 1994 local businessmen Andy Beard and Dick Dunn engaged in a friendly competition to see who could buy the most bikes for charity. Their total was 17 bikes – 14 for Andy; 3 for Dick.  That endeavor evolved into The Spokes Group – a year-round project to raise money to make as many children as possible happier during the Christmas season.

 

Fast-forward 13 years. “To date we have raised almost $1 million to purchase over 14,000 new bikes and helmets,” said Beard. The bikes are given to the Salvation Army, which distributes them through its Christmas Bureau. There are never enough bikes for all the families signed up to receive food and gifts from the bureau. So families spin a wheel of chance and if it lands on a bicycle, they’ll take one home.

 

“The first time I saw the wheel spun and saw the joy on that mother’s face, I thought if $70 can bring that much joy then in this prosperous town we can bring some joy,” recalled Beard.

 

The program is funded by donations from individuals and companies. The average cost of a bike is $70 and 100 cents of every dollar buys bikes and helmets. “A bike to a needy child in someone’s honor is a great gift for that person on the list who has everything,” Beard said.

 

Many people like Laverne L. Talbert have donated a bike because they never had one. “I am a 77 yr. old lady that was raised in a county preacher’s home in eastern N.C. I never had a bike. I always filled out the form in the Montgomery Ward catalog, but never got to send it in. So now I can buy a bike, but I can’t ride it. Funny how life goes.”

 

For info visit thespokesgroup.com.

 

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