Thousands Find Reasons to Give Thanks through Rescue Missions
Community Support, Involvement of Volunteers Vital to Reaching People in Need
This Thanksgiving, the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) is recognizing the importance of volunteers in the success of rescue missions across North America.
“It should come as no surprise that the rescue mission community depends on good-hearted people who volunteer their time and give of their resources to benefit people in need,” notes AGRM President John Ashmen. “A greater number of people are discovering the deep satisfaction that comes through face-to-face encounters with invisible neighbors in need, and more so, the joy of giving to folks who will never be able to pay you back.”
Ashmen also points to an increase in volunteer involvement in rescue missions across the country, a trend that becomes evident during the holiday season—the busiest time of the year for feeding the hungry and homeless in America. But help doesn’t always dry up after the holidays anymore.
“Thankfully, people recognize that the needs of people served by rescue missions are not limited to the holiday season. Many missions I’ve talked with in the past few weeks are building a more consistent volunteer presence year-round in their events and programs,” Ashmen says. “That is a crucial step in keeping rescue missions resourced and ready to serve.”
The meals rescue missions provide through events and food boxes at Thanksgiving represent a seasonal surge of activity, and account for hundreds of thousands of meals toward the more than 50 million meals provided each year by the nearly 300 AGRM members. Here’s a sampling of the variety of events that represent rescue mission Thanksgiving activities this year.
Omaha, Nebraska’s Open Door Mission will engage 600 volunteer drivers to help deliver some 5,000 “Turkey ‘n’ Fixins” food boxes to at-risk families the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving. Food box contents for this “Drumsticks on Wheels” event were funded through community donations from both businesses and individuals, featuring a shopping event to raise food box funds at a regional chain of grocery stores. The Omaha mission’s holiday food box initiative is one example of how many missions provide food to a family for more than one meal at Thanksgiving.
In Idaho, Boise Rescue Mission Ministries is slated to serve more than 3,000 Thanksgiving meals to men, women and children at its annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet, held the day before Thanksgiving. Again, volunteers will play a significant role in staffing the event. The Boise mission also plans to distribute some 2,000 family food boxes for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Bridgeport (Connecticut) Rescue Mission has asked for volunteers to conduct drives to collect some 3,000 turkeys and 15,000 winter coats for Thanksgiving distribution. The Bridgeport Mission has also set a goal to deliver 4,000 holiday food boxes to area families in great need as part of their Great Thanksgiving Project. Hundreds of volunteers are expected to help make the Project a success again this year.
Valley Rescue Mission in Columbus, Georgia, is one of many missions that seeks to ensure an extra human touch through simple, sincere conversation to people who are frequently forgotten during the holidays. Valley Mission staff and dozens of volunteers expect to serve up to 1,000 holiday meals “in-house,” and also plan to deliver holiday meals to shut-ins and the elderly in their community.
“In reaching out to serve those who need help and hope, rescue missions and their everyday neighbors do something extraordinary,” Ashmen notes. “They extend the radical hospitality of Jesus—something our world needs to see much more of.”
He continues, “AGRM is so thankful for those who give of their time and resources to help those we are committed to serve. I sincerely hope, on behalf of each member mission in AGRM, that people keep choosing to take part in this great outreach.”
Volunteer and donation opportunities through local AGRM-member rescue missions—both during the holidays and throughout the year—can be found at http://www.agrm.org/agrm/Locate_a_Mission.asp.
Now in its 102nd year, AGRM has nearly 300 rescue mission members across North America. AGRM members serve approximately 50 million meals, provide 25 million nights of shelter and housing, distribute 30 million pieces of clothing, bandage the wounds of hundreds of abuse victims, and graduate more than 20,000 homeless men and women from addiction recovery programs into productive living.
Rescue missions have been providing hospitality to the poor in America since the 1870s. They are experts at providing effective care for men, women, and children who are hungry, homeless, abused, or addicted.
AGRM is North America’s oldest and largest network of crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers, offering radical hospitality in the name of Jesus. For more information, please visit www.agrm.org.