Every Christmas is special, because it is the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ our Lord and Savior. It can also be said, that it’s the time of the year we celebrate the birth of Love and Compassion. It’s a time when most people take the focus off themselves, think of others and take action in the spirit of the season.
As Christians we are called to think of others, especially those less fortunate every day of the year. We called to meet their needs, both spiritually, and physically with the love and compassion of Christ as well as keep them in our prayers.
Christmas is a time of year in which we should double our efforts to let those living on the streets know that Christ loves and cares for them, and so do we. And that’s why every Christmas Eve we at Chapelhill and our volunteers, are on the streets demonstrating the love and compassion of the season and of a Savior who loves us so much He was willing to give His life for us…ALL OF US.
This year’s Christmas Eve outreach to the homeless was a cold and snowy one. We were able to bless 86 homeless individuals with a personalize message of encouragement, love, and wishes for a better tomorrow, as well as gifts to ensure they are warm and have the means for nourishment, along with small amount of cash for dignity purposes. We also spent time with them in conversation, prayer, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Each year it seems there are more and more people living on the streets as a direct results of circumstances that were beyond their control; and the stories are heart breaking. The overwhelming desire shared by most, was to get off the streets, get a job, and rebuild their lives.
Thus, it’s hard to call Operation Christmas Card a success, when there are so many people living on the streets. However, as much as they conveyed that they were blessed by our compassion for them and the wonderful gifts; we were the ones truly blessed. What a great honour it was for our team to service God at this gentle time of the year, and to spend time with those who have lost everything and everyone, and letting them know that we love them and care about them.
Every year we are touched by the stories of their lives or circumstances, these are but a fraction of those that touched us this season:
At the top of the page is a picture of a gentleman named Charles, with Pastor Charles. Charles told us of the difficulties and the dangers of living on the streets of Toronto. Charles had been stabbed several times and even suffered gunshot wounds. Charles believes God is watching over him, and wishes that government would do more to assist him. Why? Because Charles doesn’t want to live on the streets, he wants so little, a roof over his head, so he can be safe, and a job to provide for his needs.
We met a gentlemen that we have seen on the streets before, in fact we see him almost every year. Bob has kept every Christmas Card we have ever given him. Bob said something that really touched us when he said, “You are like family that lives in another province, but you always come home at Christmas and visit, and I look forward to seeing you again. I think about all year long”
We met a woman just outside the Eaton Centre, and as we approached she asked an odd question. She was asking everyone that passed by her if they had a spare pair of socks. So when she saw us, she asked the same question. She was a little shocked when we said, yes we do. Then she asked if we had any gloves, we answered, “yes we do”; and give her some new gloves. Then she asked another strange question, she said, “you would happen to have a Tim Horton Card you don’t want”. We replied, well, you will find one in this Christmas Card for you. She seemed a little overwhelmed by this; however, she had one more request, and that was for a scarf, which we just happened to have. That afternoon all her requests were met.
We were able to share the love of God with her, as well as pray for her, and let her know that she was highly treasured by the Lord. She was so happy, she said she’d like to smile but she didn’t have any teeth, but she wanted to have her picture taken, on what was a special Christmas for her.
Their need is so great, and what Chapelhill does on Christmas Eve is such a small part, but it’s our part, to bring the joy of Christmas, and the compassion of Christ to those society overlooks, and often forgets. Would you prayerfully consider giving to this vital outreach, and help bring joy to those who are less fortunate. You can do so by visiting the donation page located on our website.
Friends of Operation Christmas Card gathered to write words of encourage and hope as we prepare for our 17th year of reaching the homeless on Christmas Eve.
This week friends of Operation Christmas Card met to pray for those living on the streets of Toronto; and to start the process of writing individual messages of hope and inspiration that reflect the joy of the season as well as our great concern for them.
Every year we hope to see less people living on the streets; however, the reality is, that there are even more people on the streets today than ever before. There need for personal interaction, and compassion during this time, is as important to them as it is for those more fortunate.
Our heart during this special time of year, is to show them that we care about them just as our Savior does. We strive to bring as much joy as we can to them, with a Christmas Card that has a personal message for them, and gifts to ensure they are warm and have the means for nourishment, and a small amount of cash for dignity purposes as well as conversation and time.
The reason we’re out on the streets of Toronto every Christmas Eve, can be summed up in one statement by a precious soul living on the street “ I look forward to our visit all year, you are like having family visit for the holidays, and your gifts are so welcomed” That’s just one reason why, but a good one.
THE NEED IS GREATER EVERY YEAR
We can use all the assistance we can, to reach as many as we can. So if your heart is touch by their unfortunate situation, please prayerfully consider making a donation to this humanitarian outreach. Bless you!
Christmas is a special time of year as we celebrate the birth of Christ, and think of those who are less fortunate. Chapelhill Ministries has made a special effort to reach out to the Homeless of Toronto every Christmas Eve, and has been doing so for the past sixteen years via our Operation Christmas Card outreach. It is such a great blessing for us to be able to go out and bless others during this time of compassion and love.
This year, as in past years, always brings many heartwarming stories from those living on the streets. This year was no different. There was one person in particular, a young deaf man I made to be about twenty years old. He had his spot marked out, as most homeless do, on the corner of Yonge and Dundas next to Dundas Square when Charles and I came upon him. When we greeted him it was obvious that something was different. After a few attempts to get his attention he finally turned to us, and upon seeing us, came a flurry of sign language. Not knowing any sign language we were able to communicate with through various gestures. We explained to him that we had a gift for him and wanted to know how he was doing.
He had been on the street for some time as evident by the way he kept his space and belongings. He tried to tell us that he was unable to find work, and difficult to get assistance. He indicated that he was trying to stay warm; and would be going to a shelter for Christmas.
Every envelope handed out contains, a personalize hand written message within a Christmas card, five dollars cash, gift certificates for coffee and food, hard warmers, nutrition bars, chocolate and candy, halls, a Christian message, and various other items. Upon opening his Christmas card, and seeing the contents, the young man began to beat his heart over and over again and pointing at the card. I will never forget the look in his eyes, as he was trying to thank us.
I was very pleased to hear that a gentleman that has been on the streets for years, finally received some housing assistance, and he was over joyed to be off the street. He joked with me because my parting saying is always “I hope I don’t see you out here next year” and he said, “I won’t be out here next year for you to see me” I can’t begin to convey how happy I am for him.
There is such a need, and we understand that need is great, and we wish we could do more. However, we are doing what we can to bring some Christmas joy to those who are otherwise would be forgotten. Taking our time to get to know the person and giving items that will for a short time bring some comfort and assistance is our way of saying we care about them and love them, that they are not forgotten people.
My biggest regret this year is that we didn’t have enough cards to meet the need on the street, so I am asking you to partner with us in this humanitarian outreach. Will you please prayerfully consider making a charitable donation to this worthy outreach to the homeless. Together we can all make a difference especially during this precious time of year.
BE AN OCC GIFTER TODAY