Over the years Christmas at TRM has taken on many forms; from setting up in the basement of Open Way Church to a warehouse across from the main shelter to utilizing the conference room and hallways in the main shelter to our current location at the warehouse at 206 NW Norris. It takes hundreds of hours of donated volunteer hours, thousands of donated new gifts, and countless prayers to create a space that will help those we serve feel special, loved and cared for. It is a time of Christmas smells and twinkling lights; smiling faces and tears of gratitude and joy. It’s a time where the warmth of the season and the love of Christ permeates every corner.
There are so many wonderful memories but a few stand out. One year we had a snowstorm and a couple came in the door almost frozen. They had walked across the Topeka Bridge to come to the Christmas shop for their appointment to get their gifts. Their only means of getting there was to walk.
We had them sit down, gave them something warm to drink, blankets to warm and showered them with attention and love. The man did not have a coat as he had given his coat to his wife and neither of them had a hat or gloves. As they warmed up, we talked with the couple to find out what they needed and by the time they were ready to leave they had new coats, clothing, hats & gloves, winter boots, other gifts and food. We loaded up the TRM van and transported them back to their home. We are sure they felt the Love of Jesus and were definitely blessed as were all those who had been a part of serving them. The opportunities to give and receive blessings during Christmas are boundless.
Another year, Barry Feaker was leaving the Christmas shop and saw a man, who was visibly upset, out in the parking lot. Drawing near, he noticed the man was crying. Barry asked the man what was wrong and if there was anything he could do to help him. The man responded that this was the very first time he had been given a gift for Christmas and he was overwhelmed that people who didn’t know him cared enough to give him gifts.
There are so many stories like these each Christmas season. Over the years the places have changed, as well as the numbers of individuals served, increasing from less than 200 to approximately 4500 last year. Throughout all those changes, one thing has remained the same; our goal to always provide an experience that is both welcoming and uplifting. For those we serve, we want them to walk away feeling loved and cared about. None of this could happen without the generosity of everyone who donates their time, money and gifts. Thank you for helping us make memories for everyone involved. †