Yesterday, the whole family (me, my wife Janice, and sons Richard and Philip) spent the evening as volunteers at His Glory Belvidere Outreach Mission, helping with their annual Joy of Christ toy giveaway.
There were hundreds of people who waited in a long line to get Christmas gifts for their children. There were dozens of volunteers there also. Everyone braved temperatures in the teens and brisk winds to be there.
I know that I got cold...in my expensive double-insulated winter coat, gloves and hat. But I saw many people standing in line wearing fall jackets with no hat or gloves. Some of the volunteers were handing out blankets for people to use while the waited in line. Others were handing out coats, gloves, and hats for people to keep. Among the volunteers were some ambulance workers from OSF Saint Francis hospital in Rockford.
This was the first year that I participated in the event, and the scale was larger than I had imagined. Police closed off an entire block of Belvidere's State Street, the major road through downtown Belvidere. There were several police cars and ambulances there. Outdoor volunteers included those handing out blankets, coats, hats and gloves; others handing out cookies and hot chocolate; singing carols; reenacting the nativity scene (no animals were involved); and helping people carry bags full of gifts back to their cars or homes (I spent most of my time doing this). I never made it inside the mission building, but I know there were many more volunteers working there.
This was a great way to spend Christmas Eve eve.
The local paper, the Rockford Register Star, has a news article and a small photo gallery on the event. Enjoy!