Christmas was in the air on Sunday, December 18th at UCO’s Drop In Center! People came from far and wide to help with our festive Christmas celebration. Gracie, Leonard, and others came from YWCA with mountains of warm coats and jackets they had collected for our guests. Palos Verde “Kids for Kids” also gave coats for the children through Case Manager, Ann Lampe’s efforts.
Paige Pelonis from City HeARTS brought Santa and did face painting and gift wrapping. Santa gave out the nice donated toys that came from all over….just a few from here and a few from there which all added up because people were all doing what they could do and the Lord blessed it, just like the miracle of the fishes. We had new blankets from the Multi-Service Center, 12 new sleeping bags from Mr. & Mrs. Panitz, some adult gifts like crossword books, lip gloss, and calendars.
Several groups came to volunteer including 10 little campfire girls who made and gave out hygiene kits from a big black Santa looking sack which looked like Santa had brought them himself!
North High School students brought clothing and shoes and were very helpful. Even the Belmont Shore Boat Parade Dragon Team came and brought resources and gave of their time even though the holidays are so busy for them! Free phones were given out and people were signed up for insurance. People were given money to do their children’s laundry, bus passes to get to interviews, money for apartment credit checks, gas money to get to work, rental assistance to prevent eviction, and motel stays for families working with us.
Cal Heights United Methodist Church held their annual Bake Sale to raise funds for UCO.
On December 15, the night it rained so hard, we opened our Temporary Shelter with our partners Beacon for Him, Long Beach Rescue Mission, and the Multi-Service Center. Seventy-six people were sheltered and fed and 3 families put into motels and a file opened for them to assist them in the hard times they are experiencing. They were so grateful, but it wasn’t enough. We had to turn away 4 individuals as we were at capacity. Even with all we do more families are out sleeping in their cars and the streets this cold week because we just can’t afford to supply enough and most agencies are out of money at year end so we can’t even refer enough people fast enough to get immediate help.
Sunday was a busy and happy day and we found joy for all we could do. However my heart weighs heavy for all those we can’t help.
We’ll be working with Temple Israel for a nice Christmas dinner and continue giving out the resources that come in. If you have any gift you can give to join the blessed efforts of the community on behalf of those so in need just bring it on Sunday, or put monetary gifts in the mail, or go to our website.
Ho, ho, ho! Christmas elves are still at work!