Life is not always fair. Many people bear more than their share of misfortune. Life events such as the death of a loved one, loss of employment, divorce, abuse, addiction and physical or mental illness can result in loss of self-worth, depression and sometimes homelessness. Christmas can be a lonely time for those who are homeless, struggling with a self-destructive lifestyle or even transitioning to a stable living environment.
In the mid-1970s, two BelPres volunteers made Christmas just a little brighter at Seattle’s First Avenue Service Center for homeless men. They shopped the sales, filled and wrapped 50 gift boxes with warm winter clothes and toiletries. In the early 1980s, the need became greater than this generous and compassionate mother and daughter could provide alone. BelPres’ Community Outreach Committee turned to the congregation and 200 boxes were packed for the Service Center. Seattle women’s shelters were added to the list of recipients and the project continued for twenty years.
In 2000, Seattle churches took over and BelPres focused on increasing needs of the homeless on the Eastside by preparing 50 gift boxes. Chuck and Marie Olmstead have chaired this growing labor of love and generosity since 2001. Last year, Karen Clark and Chuck Zuber began sharing the responsibility with them.
This year, the goal is to prepare 245 Christmas boxes: 180 boxes for men served by Congregations for the Homeless (CFH) in the Winter Shelter, the Rotating Shelter at churches – including BelPres and Transitional Housing for those approaching stability and independence; 25 boxes for Real Escape from the Sex Trade (REST) – a residential program for women; 40 boxes for Homeless Youth (New Horizons) for males and females, ages 13-24.
Boxes and gift lists are available in the Lobby after all services on November 12, 19 and 26. Filled and wrapped boxes should be returned to the church on December 3 or 10.
If you have questions or need more information, call:
Chuck or Marie Olmstead 425-223-9373 (cell) 425-947-7917 (home)
Chuck Zuber or Karen Clark 425-765-4763 (cell) 425-823-9057 (home)