Yesterday a polite young man came into the HOPE Chest of Pekin asking if we could assist him with some clothes and help get his ID. He had just gotten out of prison and all he had were the clothes he was wearing and his shirt had a hole in it. Yes, we could help him with clothes, hygiene products and food, thanks to our wonderful donors of goods and food and funds. Becky, our Food Pantry Coordinator stocked him up on some hygiene products, socks and as much non perishable vittles that he could carry. We had a very nice pair of athletic shoes which we blessed him with. Men’s clothing is one area that we do not have an abundance of. However, he was not picky and was willing to make size 38 pants and underwear work even though he typically wears 34. We gave him a rolling suitcase so he could carry everything back to where he was staying for now.
This young man is just wanting to get a new start and because of your donations - both to the food pantry and to the thrift store, together, we were able to help him on his way to starting afresh.
At the urging of a friend, a young very pregnant woman came into the HOPE Chest and humbly inquired about some help with some baby clothes. Earlier in her pregnancy she had already purchased the needed baby supplies for her soon arriving little girl. But now she found herself in desperate need! Her world had been turned upside down. She had been thrown out of her place and the people she had been staying with had gotten rid of all of her baby supplies she had worked so hard for, new car seat and all! She was now 8 months pregnant and now with nothing!
A friend’s mom had taken her in and brought her to the HOPE Chest in hopes of finding some things to help get her at least started again.
As I asked her what she needed- her reply: basically anything. There wasn’t one ounce of entitlement, only grateful humility for however we could help. Because of our wonderful donors, we were able to provide some clothing, linens and other necessities. I asked her if she had a car seat or bed? She had neither. We did not have a car seat, but a nice pack and play with bassinet had just been dropped off by one of our donors. Tears of appreciation instantly filled her eyes as she covered her mouth.
About this time one of our regular customers Judy Smock, was also in the store shopping. She recognized that we were in the midst of helping this young mom but sensed there was still a need for something. As I stepped away to get some plastic bags Judy pulled me aside to inquire if there was anything in particular this gal need that she could possibly help out with - a car seat. Judy instantly replied, “I want to get her a brand new car seat.” I had the privilege of introducing these two ladies to each other and Judy asked if she could purchase a new car seat for her? More tears of appreciation and amazement at a stranger’s kindness. Even her friend was touched.
As we bagged everything up, I asked this young gal if she would please bring in her new baby once she arrived so we could meet this little one. And Judy piped up with this question: “Could I be her Grandma?” to which this young mama replied “You sure may!”
Thank you to all of our great donors who help make stories like this even possible!!!
The HOPE Chest now has a Softball Team with one of our employees - Katie playing on it. If you enjoy watching (and cheering for) summer softball, then plan on coming out to the ball field on Sunday evenings. The schedule is posted here. It's family friendly and it's free.
Look for the ORANGE shirts.
Hey TEAM HOPE:
This is Dave Craig, the Executive Director here at The HOPE Chest. I wanted to share with you our Seeds of HOPE results for the month of October. Seeds of HOPE is our program where we assist people in need with the physical things they need in life right now that can bring HOPE in their darkest moments. It is our program where we bless a person or a family who do not have the financial means to get the things they need in a moment of difficulty.
For the month of October,2014 - The HOPE Chest was able to help 46 families. We gave them a total of $2,201.76 in FREE merchandise.
We are able to do this through the generosity of our donors and supporters. Because you give, we gave. Thank you so much for your partnership in giving hope to families and people in need.
God bless you all and have a HOPE filled Thanksgiving. Here at the HOPE Chest we are thankful for all of our customers, supporters, volunteers, donors and emploees who help us each and every day deliver HOPE to our community and a tri-county area.
If you’re helping anyone who has lost hope, direct them to the HOPE Chest and we will do whatever we can with the resources we have to help bring HOPE back to life for them.
These photos and stories were shared by one of our awesome cashiers Laura P. You will be touched by it:
“This is Buddy, the Autism Bear. One of our regular customers at The HOPE Chest made him special for me in honor of all on the Autism spectrum. I had donated some $ to go toward material for her to make bears for a benefit. Beautiful kindhearted people like her are why I love this job. Definitely made my night! "
"The legs and arms and head are all movable and the heart on his sleeve says ‘I love someone with Autism’! Needless to say, it made me cry to receive him and the effort she went to just so she could pay it forward.”
Then later Laura posted:
“Here is a picture of me with Judi Albright, who made an Autism Bear for me because i donated $ for materials so she can continue making her custom bears for a benefit. What a sweetheart of a lady! I will cherish "Buddy" forever!”
The HOPE Chest loves our customers and our employees and stories of HOPE being shared to one another!!!
I cannot believe that two years ago on this EXACT day, June 1st 2012, The HOPE Chest opened it's doors to the public for the very first time. The past two years have flown by quickly. I stand amazed at what God has done. The HOPE Chest and TEAM Hope have impacted our county and our community in ways I never dreamed of when I started this non-profit ministry.
Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, cried with us, worked for us, laughed with us, dreamed with us, donated to us, supported us, and shared HOPE with us. I have said this many times in the past two years - the HOPE Chest is God's store....not mine or anyone else's.
God gave me the dream, the vision, and the resources to get it going but I want ALL the glory to go to God. Thanks be to God! - Dave Craig, Executive Director
Tap, Tap, Tap… on the HOPE Chest Office door...
“May I help you?” I asked.
“I just wanted to say ‘thank you’. The HOPE Chest and Dave helped me a while back when I REALLY needed help. I am just wanting to give you this as a ‘thank you’ for all the HOPE Chest did for me when I so needed your help.”
She humbly handed me a hard earned 20 dollar bill. Her eyes spoke volumes of sincere gratefulness. I asked her name and thanked her on behalf of the HOPE Chest and Dave and the whole HOPE Team.
“May I give you a hug?” I asked. She gladly opened her arms. Her story, her gift, her embrace left me thanking God for once again the many opportunities we have at the HOPE Chest to bless others. But today I was also thanking Him for the blessing He just gave me through this woman’s brief but sincere visit to my office.
Thank you God for this dear lady and the many we call Team HOPE who donate to the HOPE Chest so together we can give HOPE and Help Other People Excel.
A family touched my heart today. It happens a lot here working at the HOPE Chest. But today stands out.
I (Rhonda) received a call that a family was coming in and they were in need of some assistance. They were homeless - living in their car throughout the winter! They have a child.
The HOPE Chest was able to bless this family with food and hygiene items that have been donated by our community. Our volunteers helped me find the needed items and load them into their car.
They were so thankful they cried. I cried too.
THANK YOU for your donations and allowing us the ability to Help Other People Excel.
I just have to share with you this story about a gal named Cathy (name changed). I share this so you can pray for her and also praise God with us!!!
I (Alice) first met Cathy at the end of summer as I was getting out of my car one morning heading into the HOPE Chest to work. She was walking up Peoria St. which runs along side of our bldg where the donation 'drop-off' door is. She was bold enough to just ask me out of the blue if I could drive her up to the County Court House so she could get to her court appearance on time. So in my haste I inadvertently locked my keys in my car along with my bag and my spare keys (ugh!!) and Dave
didn't have an extra key on his set for his van (double 'ugh'!!) But I used his keys and took her in the van. My son later brought in a spare key from home when he came into work. That was my first encounter with Cathy.
Through the following months she would periodically come in with some serious life stories to share with me. I enjoyed seeing her and she me. For the recent Christmas Toy Give-Away at our store, Cathy came in and asked about getting a voucher to get toys for her sister-in-law or whoever the gal/friend that was living with her- for her kids. Since they were getting no other assistance we gave Cathy the voucher which would entitle her to pick 3 brand new toys and 3 gently used toys for EACH child. On the night of the 'Toy Give-Away' she and her friend were there - one of the first in line to 'shop' for toys specifically for her friend's kids. Cathy wrapped them and put them under the tree at her place. Some time after they had gotten the presents, Cathy found out that this gal's older son had drugs and needles in her house. Since she is on probation, she would be violating probation with these in her home. So she had to kick all of them out. In the meantime, Christmas came and went. The gifts remained under the tree.
On Friday Cathy notified us that the HOPE Chest was used by God to really do something special in her life!! She wanted to tell us her story and to go to church with us on Sunday! So Dave lined it up for me to go pick her up. As soon as I picked her up (she met me walking along the roadside), she
was so excited to tell me her story... which first was about having to kick this friend/relative and kids out because of drugs. In the shock of this whole discovery, they totally forgot about the gifts under the tree. But then Cathy proceeded to tell me her brother came over the day after Christmas and was so bummed out because he didn't have any presents for his kids and had been too embarrassed to seek assistance. Here she had a whole slew of presents but now no kids to give them to! So she told her brother about all the presents under the tree and that he could have ALL of the gifts for his
kids. When he took them home to his kids, Cathy said it was as if they had been picked out specifically for his children in the first place!!! Her little niece had to come back over and show her and thank her for her new doll. It so touched Cathy's heart that the gifts she had gotten for someone else initially were perfect for her brother's kids. To Cathy this was a miracle from God.
Her other brother Charlie started telling her that maybe God was trying to get her attention!!!...and He had. Then during the Sunday sermon, Pastor Dave said that some of us needed to start saying 'NO' to some of our relationships that have been tearing us down. Maybe some of us are needing to cut some people out of our lives if they are causing us to make ungodly decisions and pulling us down and away from God. She leaned over and said "I think he is telling that to me!!" After church I took her back towards her house but she wanted me to drop her off and she would walk the rest of the way home - she didn't want me to see her house. As I drove back into town, Cathy called me and she was almost in tears. The guy who she had let stay with her had stolen her money and had left her place a mess. She was so upset, rightly so. I reiterated what Dave had said and that she was
needing to start saying 'no' to people who were only wanting to use and abuse her. Cathy said her brother has been telling her that too. In fact, he too had been going down a really bad path and had ended up in jail. But somehow he found Jesus and decided to cut out all of his previous influences and wouldn't let them know where he was and wouldn't take their phone calls etc. Anyways, he was encouraging her and has told her she needs a personal relationship/friendship with Jesus. He also was telling her the same thing Pastor Dave said in the sermon. That's why even Cathy didn't know where he lived. He was saying "no" for a reason - so he could get his life back in order with God's help. On New Year's Eve she called me and was really down. After listening, I told her 'it sounds like you are at the end of yourself. God is chasing you and loves you!! Are you at the point of doing what your brother has said and give your life to Jesus?' and she said 'yes!!' So I had the privilege of praying with her. She surrendered her life to Jesus and accepted the forgiveness of all the sin in her life!!!
Later that night she decided that she didn't want to be tempted to drink or do drugs by any of her 'friends' and so she got a movie, locked herself in her little house, and acted as if no one was home. She said that she had people knocking on her door several times thru-out the night. Cathy also was trying to read her bible but it was so hard for her to understand (King James Version). On the 2nd of January Cathy came into the HOPE Chest and Dave gave her a Bible so that she could understand what she was reading. Later that night she text-ed us and told us she was so excited! She COULD understand it!!! and was totally loving reading her new Bible !!! She text-ed me and said she felt like a kid in a candy shop. In fact, she was reading in Romans!!! (what a place to start). She has text-ed me several times asking me to pray for her as she is being tempted with drugs or alcohol. But she has been standing firm against them with Jesus' help.
Her brothers found Cathy a little one room efficiency apartment in another town (about 30 min away) so that she can start over. She was moving through out the weekend despite the extreme cold. We were able to give her a sofa, new mattress, and microwave from the HOPE Chest through our Seeds
of Blessings Program. She still needs a little apartment size stove but that will come from somewhere. If you have one to donate for her just call the HOPE Chest. She text-ed me to pray for her as the people helping her were drinking and fighting and she would go into her bedroom to pray for God to give her strength not to drink with them or inspite of them. In the midst of this moving stress, not feeling well, thoughts of possible jail time, she is seeking God to give her His strength not to drink to escape.
I just had to share Cathy's story with you so you too can pray for her - a new Babe in Christ and
also thank God for another life that has been touched eternally by God's grace thru the HOPE Chest. She's got a hard road ahead of her but the road she was on was leading to an early death in more than one way!! Pray with me for victory in Cathy's life thru Jesus and that she'd make the next right choice.
Thank you for your continued prayers for, donations to, and support of The HOPE Chest. God is touching lives through His store - The HOPE Chest of Pekin. Helping Other People Excel.
Dave Craig, Executive Director, Alice Craig, Office Manager, Sue Kerr, Director of Marketing, Rhonda Greene, Hope Cupboard and the rest of our great staff and volunteers here at The HOPE Chest