Wanted, Shoe boxes for Christmas Gifts
A group of people from Des Moines area churches had an idea to give the homeless an evening of joy and Christmas celebration. The event supplies a meal, but does so much more by having booths with services and food items to take with them at the end of the evening. It also supplies entertainment, making every effort to make the evening a memorable one for those less fortunate on our streets.
This year the St. Boniface Joppa Ministry Core team has reached out to the committee organizing the Christmas Celebration held for the homeless of the Des Moines area to see what we could do to help. Many of you have answered the call to be volunteers for this celebration in various ways, and I cannot thank you enough. But there are ways you can all help out. About 200 homeless attend this celebration. Each one receives a gift box containing items such as AAA batteries, small flashlights, hand/foot warmers, travel tissues, winter socks, and importantly gift cards to places like Quik Trip, Burger King, and Hy-Vee. A list of gift items will be collected, so please watch the bulletin for additional requests for your helping hand in that arena.
For the moment, however, I am looking for shoe boxes. Yep, that’s right. We need shoe boxes in which to put the Christmas items before wrapping them. For now, please just put them under the table in the gathering space. Also, something to think about as you are baking your zucchini, banana, and pumpkin breads this fall and after you’ve donated some of those to the annual church dinner bake sale, please consider making some small loaves to put in your freezer to be given to the homeless at the celebration for them to take with them when they leave that evening. I’ll have more details on that in November.
St. Boniface Joppa ministry to the homeless is underway!
By Deb Purcell, August 21, 2017
It all started back in November when we toured the tiny home in our parking lot and committed as a parish to raise funds to cover the cost of building and furnishing one of them. Thanks to you, we’re doing that! We’re raising $6,500 to fund our tiny home, and when it’s time to start building it, we get to help with that, too. The completed home will be placed in a tiny home village that is being planned in Des Moines.
We asked you to let us know if you had interest in finding out more. We had 80 people reply! We then held informational meetings with a presenter from Joppa for anyone to come find out about how Joppa helps the homeless, the challenges they face, and how we can help. People were enthusiastic about developing a ministry at St. Boniface that would support the efforts and processes already in place with Joppa.
We set up two Camp Experience Tours this spring, and 35 St. Boniface members visited homeless camps in the woods in the metro area. The campers were touched by our visit, and we were touched by their stories and their survival efforts.
We put together a Core Team who are meeting and working together to investigate our options, to work with the Joppa leaders, and to set the framework for this new ministry in place. We surveyed the original 80 people to find out what part of this homeless ministry was tugging at their hearts, and what talents and abilities they could share.
Based on those responses we charted the beginning of this new, exciting, blessing-filled journey! It will not only be a ministry to provide basic food and shelter, but also one of building relationships with a commitment to remain connected, to listen to their struggles with an open ear and a caring heart.
There are so many needs, so our Core Team identified specific ones to work on at this time. Some of them involve direct contact with the homeless, others involve helping at the Joppa Center, and still others will be done here at St. Boniface.
Here’s what we’re going to do:
–make and deliver a Welcome Basket of supplies and kitchen items when a client moves into housing
–package Blessing Bags with small needed items for the homeless
–form teams of five (a Circle of Friends), to take turns checking in with a client in housing with a visit or a phone call once a week to see how they are doing, what challenges or hardships they are dealing with, and being a friendly, caring presence to someone now feeling isolated after living in a camp community
–provide hospitality to volunteers and clients at the Joppa Center
–serve on the Cooler Prep team at the Joppa Center assembling fresh food items for route delivery the next day
–construct the tiny home
–help organize the Christmas celebration for the homeless
–collect donations for the Welcome Baskets, Blessing Bags, tents, and for special request items like used bicycles
It’s not too late to be part of this great ministry. If you weren’t able to stop by the display in the gathering space this weekend, you can still sign up to receive email updates or let us know you want to help. Just contact me at email@example.com or by calling 987-4597 and asking for Deb.
To donate any of the items listed in the two categories below, place them in the brown collection boxes in the church entryways. Donations are accepted throughout the year.
Blessing Bags and General Items Needed
Welcome Baskets Items Needed
If you’d like to give financially, you can write a check payable to St. Boniface (write Joppa in the Memo line) or give electronically via WeShare Online Giving. (Contact Nancy in the parish office with questions.)
We are so thankful to everyone who helped us get this far in our ministry, for your input and time, for all the donations placed in the collection boxes, and for contributions to fund the tiny home. This is just the beginning!
By uniting with each other and reaching out to the homeless, we can experience a transforming encounter with Christ, who has empowered us to become his presence in the world!
What is Joppa?
Joppa is a volunteer-driven, interdenominational, nonprofit organization in Iowa that helps homeless people survive, get housing and rebuild their lives. They have been serving the homeless since 2008. Their mission is to create a community of unconditional love, support, and hope for the homeless, as we all work together to end homelessness.
Each week Joppa volunteers visit 100-200 people living under bridges, in tents, shacks, vehicles, and those recently transitioned into housing. Joppa supports community services by meeting unmet needs, such as homeless nutrition, street nursing, job training, transportation, and survival programs like winter heat and boots.
St. Boniface is excited to begin partnering with Joppa! We met with their leadership to discuss ways we as a parish can best assist them. We were particularly interested in:
- learning more about the areas they have the most need
- areas where our parish can assume responsibility for a specific task or project, organize it, and see it to completion
- areas where we can build relationships and ‘walk’ with people for an extended period of time, not just a one-time connection
- ways we can help with an immediate need that JOPPA needs to respond to (for example, urgent need for tents, water, socks, etc.)
- meal preparation opportunities
- ‘behind-the-scenes’ opportunities
- ‘direct service’ opportunities (interaction with the homeless)
To learn more about Joppa, visit their website at www.joppa.org