It feels a whole lot like Christmas to residents on Casa Drive, Sunset Lane and Horseshoe Drive. The area has been getting a lot of attention since before Thanksgiving from various churches spreading holiday cheer and doing outreach for Christ.
Bethesda Fellowship Ministries delivered boxed Thanksgiving dinners to 100 residents in the area Nov. 22 and will do a Christmas meal delivery today to those same residents in the three targeted neighborhoods.
Hillside Ministries, which operates Mission Casa at 306 Casa Drive, serves the neighborhoods throughout the year but steps it up during the holiday season. On Saturday, church volunteers went door to door bearing gifts for 20 families and 45 children. Each family received 30 pounds of food for Christmas dinner, a stocking with personal hygiene items and toys for their children. Last year, Hillside Ministries adopted four families through Shoebox Christmas. But this year, the church decided to combine efforts with its mission center on Casa Drive and serve the residents two-fold.
Shane White, the pastor at Mission Casa, knows every single resident personally.
“I’ve built relationships with these people,” White said, “They know we genuinely care for them. People know when you are being real and when you are just trying to sell them something.”
White said that by him knowing the neighbors and them getting to know each other through activities at Mission Casa, crime in the area is also reduced.
Neighbors access the food pantry the third Wednesday of the month and gather at Mission Casa once a month for a pot-luck.
Volunteer hairstylists come once a month to Mission Casa to give free haircuts.
Today, children from throughout the neighborhoods will make Christmas ornaments at Mission Casa. Hillside Ministries is providing all of the supplies.
White conducts a Bible study on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. for adults where 10-15 residents attend. Youth in Action draws 8-20 kids weekly and meets on Fridays after school where the church provides tutors to help the students with their homework.
“We also do all kinds of projects like arts and crafts,” said Christine Sweet, a church volunteer. “By completing their homework, the kids earn ‘Casa bucks’ to buy snacks and toys here at the mission.”