Feed the Children offers more than food to thousands

By Garrison Wells Updated: December 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm • Published: December 14, 2013 | 2:15 pm 0

Thousands of local residents on the low end of the wage scale learned what Christmas is really about Saturday.

They were the recipients of gift giving, from clothes to toys, to food and even haircuts and portraits.

"This is what we consider doing church," said Ro'i Steiner, operations manager at The Springs Church. "This is our outreach."

The church in north Colorado Springs was the site of "Feed the Children," a one-day event put together by the El Paso County Department of Human Services, Springs Church, Mercy Springs, Goodwill Industries, the Feed the Children Organization out of Oklahoma, The Music Evangelism Foundation and several donors and volunteers.

Families on the receiving end are already are getting help from human services.

Semi trucks loaded with food, toys and toiletries for the families are bought from the Feed the Children Organization and driven to Colorado Springs from Oklahoma.

The mid-morning line ran along the edge of the cavernous church and into the parking lot. Inside, their were other lines.

Lines for portraits. Lines for haircuts. Lines for food. Lines for clothing. Lines for vision and dental checks and lines to see Santa.

"It's been like this for three hours," Steiner said.

He said the event expected to serve between 10,000 and 12,000 people.

Of the 2,800 who signed up with DHS, there were 5,800 children.

Santa was popular, of course.

But the portraits, Steiner said, carry the most value. They were taken by local photographers who volunteered their services.

"Many people start with the haircuts, Steiner said, then hit the portrait area next once they are cleaned up.

"A lot of these people can't even pay for the necessities of day-to-day living," he said. "A portrait is out of the question for them. They will have these for the rest of their lives."

Elizabeth Archuleta, 31, and her sisters were grateful for the largess.

They have kids, not a lot of money, and every little bit helps.

"It really helps us out," she said. "We don't have money to get food and stuff."

Aly Barcelon, 7, was creating her own toy in an area hosted by The Home Depot.

In all, Steiner said, there were 500 volunteers.

Aly's goal was to build a small sailboat made of wood.

Helping her was Darin Hochstetler, supervisor of lumber and building at The Home Depot in Parker store, and Aly's older sister, Aspen.

Though not particularly demonstrative, Aspen could tell that Aly liked her creation.

"She's having fun," Aspen said. "When she's having fun, she doesn't talk much."

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