By Kim Steele
Harker Heights Herald
With only eight months of community service under its belt, Bread of Life Outreach Ministries is kicking off its latest drive.
The organization, launched in April, is sponsoring its first Kids in Our Community Gift Drive. The event begins Saturday with a breakfast at 8 a.m., a toy run at 10 a.m. and a barbecue at 11:30 a.m. for participating area motorcyclists involved in collecting toys.
The public is invited but is asked to bring a donation of new clothing or toys to the event. The breakfast is at First Baptist Church, 100 E. Ruby Road, Harker Heights. The barbecue is slated for Fort Hood Harley-Davidson, 875 W. Central Texas Expressway, Harker Heights.
Organizer Lou Ferzacca said he has a list of 160 Harker Heights children under age 10 who need clothes and toys for Christmas. Ferzacca wants to provide those items to families through donations to collection boxes set up in area businesses through Dec. 23.
Gifts will be distributed to designated families on Christmas Eve.
"To take this on in the first nine months of ministry is quite a task," said Ferzacca. "But we're the ones getting blessed. The kids are the reason we all come together to do this selfless act. We want them to have good memories of Christmas and parents not to have to choose between gifts and necessities."
Ferzacca said the idea for a toy run and gift distribution in Harker Heights came from the monthly community luncheons the ministry started at the church eight months ago.
The organization sponsored a Thanksgiving meal in November that drew about 200 participants.
Through those luncheons, said Ferzacca, prayer requests and needs were revealed to workers, and the gravity of the situation became apparent. Ferzacca said a resulting assessment of more than 250 participating households showed numerous single-parent homes with multiple children having immediate needs.
"We found a hardworking, single mom with three pre-teen and teenage boys who was doing everything she could to survive," said Ferzacca. "They didn't have a hot water heater for three months, and they still need an electric stove. These are the people we want to help."
Ferzacca, a recovery minister who has been working with the homeless for 13 years and came to Harker Heights about a year ago, said he understands what it's like to be in need. Ferzacca said he has been homeless and about 15 years ago, lived behind a gas station.
"These families are the faces we see at our luncheons, and there's not much help coming down to them," said Ferzacca. "We're doing this because we want to see smiles on these faces."
The Rev. Jay Thomas, the pastor of First Baptist Church for 16 years, said he has watched in awe as the program has grown in its eight months at the church. Thomas said he is excited to see how the clothes and toy collection are received by the community.
"It's always amazing to me how many needy people there are in Harker Heights," said Thomas. "People think of it as being more upscale, but there's still a lot of folks in need. I think this program is a great thing. It will be wonderful to see the sparkle in these kids' eyes and the joy on their faces."
Contact Kim Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567.
How to help
For more information about the Kids in Our Community Toy Drive, call Lou Ferzacca at (954) 257-8843.
New clothes and toy donations are accepted at Texas Proud Custom Cycles, 704 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd., Killeen; Cricket, 300 W. Central Texas Expressway, Suite 107, Harker Heights; Sports City Grill, 300 W. Central Texas Expressway, Harker Heights; Fireside Bar, 1827 Farm-to-Market 2410, Harker Heights; and Fort Hood Harley-Davidson, 875 W. Central Texas Expressway, Harker Heights. Donations of new clothes and toys also can be dropped off at First Baptist Church, 100 E. Ruby Road, Harker Heights.