When I think back to this time last year, we were prepared for a usual year, 2020 but what was in store for our community was far from usual.
We had our calendar planned, outreaches scheduled, offices hours planned, volunteer positions created, seasonal boutique fundraisers that help to support our mission were being prepared for and seasonal donation initiatives were planned like Back To School, Easter Baskets, Summer Family Fun Days. We were keeping busy and happy to be of service.
Then COVID came! I can remember last January watching the news with my husband Andrew. We were seeing footage from China and I remarked that I couldn't imagine having to wear a mask every day like they were. Little did I know that just 2 months later that would be an everyday practice for us.
If you've followed our story you know that we have come a long way in a year. We have served three times the number of families as in a usual prior year. It's been a huge blessing to have the needed funds coming in monthly to make the purchases necessary to help our community. We had help with purchasing a new van that makes it possible for us to pick up large quantities of food and product and make deliveries. Signarama and some friends donated the "wrap" so it looks really nice. It's like a rolling billboard. We are so happy to have it.
We had some unexpected structural and maintenance issues with our buildings that were really serious and those have been taken care of. We are planning to work on our kitchen and dining room building next. It is over 35 years old and is just OLD. You can clean it and clean it and it still looks old. It needs some updates to make it more compliant and functional in different ways. We would like to try and move the kitchen to the back space of the building and open up more seating so that when the time comes to serve we will be able to do it well. That will take a commercial architect to plan, approval by the Suffolk County Health Department. We won't be adding to the building just rearranging the inside space. We are in the beginning stages of just talking about it. Please keep that in your prayers. It's a pretty big undertaking and we will keep you posted as we know more.
We are not planning to add more new programs to our mission this year but will work to ADD VALUE to our existing core programs. Our Food Pantry will continue to serve the community 4 days a week, Tuesday, Friday 11-1pm. and we are excited to add a "Fill A Bag-Feed A Family" component, engaging our community in filling bags with food for our distributions instead of just doing "food drives". We will be posting our list soon. It's kind of exciting. More details will follow:)
Baby Blessings will continue monthly at Huntington Assembly on the third Tuesday of each month. We are currently helping around 110 babies each month with diapers, wipes, clothing formula as needed and limited amounts of baby furnishings, car seats, strollers etc (not older than 3 years for safety reasons)
We will suspend those larger items for January and February because it is VERY cold outside and hard to distribute those items quickly. We will source out items as requested by families and will post those needs as they arise.
Drew's Birthday Angels! We have always given out Birthday Bags to our mission kids and they always light up when they receive a bag with a cake mix, icing, birthday cups, plates, table cloths, favors and goodies. We will be adding value to this program this year by partnering with Deeds for Drew #deeds4drew Johann Nugent and family. to provide Drew's Birthday Angels. Johanna has provided an online form that local families in need can fill out and request a birthday wish (toy, etc). That will be added to the birthday bag that the child receives from HHRM giving the child an EXTRA SPECIAL birthday.
Weekly Hot Drive Thru meals will begin again on 1/20/21 at Huntington Assembly via drive thru. Meals are purchased from local restaurants with funds raised and they are distributed via contact free drive thru as supplies last. We are hoping to start with 500-700 meals per week. We'd like to do more as God provides. To date over 22,000 meals have been provided in partnership with other organizations.
A WINTER CLOTHING DRIVE will begin on January 18, 2021. Functional family clothing will be accepted at HHRM during donation hours. Clothing must be washed and in clear plastic bags or on hangers (that's the easiest way to process and distribute) Donation hours for this will begin 1/18 10-2pm and Tuesday-Friday 10-11 or 1-4pm Saturday 10-1pm. BUT NOT UNTIL 1/18 PLEASE.
We are not scheduling any boutique fundraisers at this time and will progress towards Easter baskets again, something special for Mother's Day-gotta remember those mama's holding it all together! Father's Day-those daddy's too, of course a Summer Clothing Distribution will be planned, Back to School backpacks and then the holidays will roll around on our calendar again.
Thank you so much for your love, prayers and support. We are so happy to be able to be here for the families that need our support, food, supplies and love.
We pray every day for God's provision, protection, grace and so much love to be evident in all that we do. We are grateful for those who are helping us, volunteering, working alongside near and far. We could not do what we do with out this support.
I remember a mom looking straight in my eyes. "What would we do without the mission? You have helped us so much with everything. God bless you." Another mom brought us fresh tamales on New Year's Eve and an orchid. "Thank you for all that you do to help. These are tamales for your New Year." Precious expressions of love multiplied back to us are an incredible blessing.
Thank you again for understanding the heart and soul of HHRM.
"But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not faint." From the book of Isaiah.
Kim (Gaines) Gambino serves as the President/Pastor of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.