Many of us take this holiday season for granted and the blessing of having a warm home and loving family to share it with. Today, and after reading this, I hope you'll reflect on all the goodness and blessings in your life and be inspired to live a life that's in service to others.
In honor of National Homeless Persons' Remembrance, we wanted to highlight Project Hope 2023 and the impact it had on those living in shelters this year, as well as those we've partnered with. If you follow us on our social accounts you may recall seeing Project Hope bags of items being collected, assembled, and donated. As an organization, we partner with our loving host and relief families, clients, our Excel Day Programs, and the entire team to make Project Hope the impact it has become. Each year, we decide upon an organization or group of underserved individuals to collect and make donations to. And every year, we are gifted with the ability to see its positive impact on the lives of those we serve.
National Homeless Persons' Remembrance Day falls on the first day of winter and remembers those in the homeless community who have passed away in that year. To me, this day reinforces what an honor it was that our team selected our local community and homeless shelters across the state for this year's Project Hope. Since Restoring Hope is vastly spread out and saturated throughout the state, this enabled us to serve multiple communities through our joined efforts. Without our partnerships, our impact just wouldn't have been as great. Each year we attempt to serve a different organization or group of people who are being underserved in our communities.
In 2022, we collected and donated items for Birthday Blessings, a 501c3 organization spreading cheer and meeting needs throughout the Missouri Foster community. With more than 20,000 children in the foster care system, many children are missing out on childhood memories and gifts not only on their special day, but in general, toys to play with and essential hygiene items needed for daily care. Birthday Blessings shares their impact: "Foster kids often suffer traumas. We strive to meet physical and emotional needs. This improves self-esteem and promotes a positive worldview." One of the programs that Birthday Blessings provides is helping children celebrate their birthdays with party supplies and gifts. They provide duffle bags and backpacks instead of trash bags, which improves dignity and self-esteem. Their independence support provides transition items for foster teens, consisting of a laundry basket full of household goods to help them shift into to adulthood more smoothly. Birthday Blessings celebrates graduates with gifts, as graduation is a huge accomplishment for foster teens. They also provide Bunny Blessings Baskets at Easter time to give the gift of sweetness and fun. These are but only a few of their incredible programs and a great organization to donate to!
In 2021, for Project Hope, we focused on collecting donations for our local Domestic Violence Shelters. Items consisted of bras, socks, feminine products, diapers, art supplies, books, beauty supplies, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, hair brushes, soap, nail polish, shampoo, stuffed animals, wipes, alarm clocks, hand sanitizer, gift cards, etc. I was able to sit down and visit with a couple of women who run a local domestic violence and abuse shelter. Watch what they had to share about their organization and its impact, here! After you see this video you'll want to go through your house and find all sorts of items to donate - so inspiring!
Homelessness is genuinely a year-round issue. With winter and Christmas time impending, it only increases anxiety and depression amongst shelter inhabitants and those living on the streets. Although it varies from community to community, homeless shelters' availability fluctuates in quality and what they're able to provide. So many shelters survive on local grocery stores and superstores for produce donations and from thoughtful community members donating everyday items such as pillows, blankets, sheets, combs, soap, deodorant, sanitary items, non-perishable food, gift cards, and cash donations.
For this year, 2023, all our efforts went towards the homeless community and local shelters providing support to them. After receiving a contribution of $150 from Green Castle Lions Club, our Kirksville Excel Day Program purchased sheets, towels, combs, soap, deodorant, and more. They then created an assembly line of participants who bagged donatable items alongside staff. It was so much fun to include Excel participants in a worthy cause where they learned the importance of giving back to their community!
Angela Bullard, Restoring Hope Secretary, is shown pictured with Salutes Thrift Store and Veteran Shelter staff, just below. Together, the Restoring Hope Business Office staff made cash donations, then shopped for non-perishable food items which were then donated to Salutes. The salutes team is pictured from left to right: staff member Frank Charboneau, CEO Kevin Falkner, and retail staff member James Falkner.
Salutes feeds anywhere from 10-20 people daily and rely heavily on the community to meet daily food demands. They operate a retail thrift store and use those profits to help serve the veterans in their community. Sometimes, however, veterans need more than food. They need emotional and cognitive support. Salutes works hard for their community and to fill many needs for its veterans. We are proud to have partnered with them!
Our KC Program Management Team below, Megan Meehan and Brandi Webb-Snyder, along with Sr. Program Manager, Whitney Schnakenberg and Nurse Rachel Clancy made a large donation to River of Refuge. All these items brought hope to others and will further River of Refuge's mission of helping transition homeless families with jobs from high-rent motels, non-traditional housing, and shelters into permanent housing.
These two adorable boys, pictured below with Springfield, Sr. Program Manager, Jamie Nuñez participated in First Lady Teresa Parsons' Community Service Challenge, firstlady.mo.gov/kids, this past summer, completing their first service category: Uplift the homeless. They teamed up with Restoring Hope in Project Hope-Homelessness campaign. The boys helped collect items for the Restoring Hope bags they donated. #mokidsserve
The National Day Calendar encourages local groups across the country to determine the number of homeless people in the community who passed away the previous year. Arrange a ceremony to remember them, then share on social media with #HomelessPersons'RemembrancDay to honor the deceased. Sadly, many of their families don't know where they are. Regardless of how they got into their situation, each person deserves a ceremony of remembrance in their passing. Our efforts in Project Hope focused on providing support and supplies to ensure those in need received the items to survive and be more comfortable until they could get back on their feet - ensuring both the security and improved living standards essential for life. Shelters constantly need supplies, volunteers, and financial assistance to provide all the necessities to keep the doors open. May we always remember this and diligently sew love and generosity into our local shelters and also to those who desperately need it.
We realize our efforts do not supply all the needs of our communities, but every single donated item is impactful! If we all do a little, it becomes a lot. So we know, when partnering with our Restoring Hope family - we are making a significant difference. Each year with Project Hope, we desire to continue spreading hope to others, one relationship, and even one donated item at a time. And again, we'd like to express our deepest gratitude to those who have partnered with us in Project Hope over the past several years. This is just another reason why we love our families and know they provide the best care to our individuals. Each of our families and team is devoted to improving the lives of others, and in turn, their lives improve. Giving to others who cannot help themselves is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things we can do. This season, look for ways to gift others, whether through your time, a cup of hot coffee or cocoa, or a warm coat and pair of gloves - go out and spread HOPE where you can!
Merry Christmas, and may this upcoming year bring you so many blessings you can begin sharing even more with others!! 💚 Together, we can make a difference.