Mission battles poverty
By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen Post-Tribune correspondent December 28, 2012 12:00PM
Lake County Clerk Mike Brown (left) and pastor Sieon Roberts of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church were among the volunteers serving nearly 300 guests during a Christmas Eve charity event at the Gary church. | Photo provided
Updated: January 31, 2013 6:35AM
An army of nearly 50 volunteers assembled at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to combat conditions of poverty on Christmas Eve. Ford Motor Co. United Auto Workers Local 551 was the driving force fueling the mission by donating $2,000, wrapping gifts, and providing hats, scarves, and helpers.
New Hope members gave more than 200 coats and provided volunteer cooks and workers — charisma graced the atmosphere.
“This Christmas, fireside is blazing bright,” was just one of the inspirational lyrics heard throughout the event.
Alton Booyer, 57, said, “I was once homeless, so when churches do stuff like this it really makes a big difference in my life.”
After dinner, Booyer walked away with a new designer leather coat.
“I’m overjoyed,” said event coordinator Anita Roberts, “because we were able to help.”
She explained how charity doesn’t begin or end during the holidays.
The church soup kitchen opens for lunch every Monday, and New Hope members travel citywide hosting annual summer tent revivals.
“We started our clothing drive during the tent revivals because we saw a need,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if these people never come to church, we just want to share the love of God.”
More than 300 locals registered during the holiday soul food feast and winter wear giveaway, according to volunteer Nona Gardfrey.
Guests went home with bags filled with coats, hats, scarves, gloves and socks. In addition to winter wear, UAW Local 551 provided unexpected toys for tots, from footballs to educational games, to make learning fun.
“I have seven children,” Michelle Washington said. “When you’re in need, that’s when you realize just how much a blessing this is.”
Washington said her first encounter with New Hope was during a 2012 summer tent revival on 5th Avenue and Colfax Street. Roberts says New Hope aims to minister to people who wouldn’t ordinarily come to church.
UAW Local 551 President Carlo Bishop and Community Service Liaison Derrick Powell partnered with New Hope, creating a stronger impact. With 3,900 members,
Powell said, “We want to bring some of (our resources) to Indiana.”
Lake County Clerk Mike Brown served guests alongside the pastor Sieon Roberts Sr.
“The food was so delicious,” said Patricia Davis, a member of the Embassies of Christ Church in Calumet Township. “My church raffled off a lot of stuff for Christmas, but I came here hoping to get coats for my grandkids.”
Davis walked away with a new sense of hope when volunteers made sure her needs were met.
Indiana State Trooper Timothy Grayson volunteered with his wife, Angela. He says they armed every guest with a gift called “The Life Book.” The easy-to-read booklet is a 109-page guide to build faith amongst believers.
“It’s our way of spreading the gospel,” Angela Grayson said.