Dear Friends:

It started like any other Tuesday. I am sitting in the car waiting for my wife to finish
doing whatever it is that women do when their husbands are in a hurry to go
somewhere. Suddenly, she opens the car door and we are on our way. “It’s the first
day of Christmas Free Store, “she reminds me.

For the next three days breakfast and lunch meals will be given to our guests in
carryout containers. The Dining Room is converted to a free store during the day so our
preregistered guests can select Christmas gifts for their personal use or for their young
children.

Once we arrived at the mission, I notice more children than usual on the sidewalk.
Inside, staff and volunteers are unloading stacks of plastic crates from the elevator.
Sounds of Christmas music and laughter are coming from the Dining Room. Volunteers
arrange gifts on tables as staff people move chairs aside to make room for racks of
clothing. Walking to my office, I wonder how many people have any idea how difficult it
is to coordinate the distribution of so many gifts to so many people in such limited
quarters. I wondered how many crates of clothing, shoes and other items would go up
and down on the elevator over the next few days.

Then I promptly forgot about the Christmas Free Store until late Thursday afternoon.
when Shervelle waved goodbye to us as we left the mission to go home.

Forty families with preschool and elementary age children came “shopping” that first
day. Each “shopper” was accompanied by a staff person or volunteer as they selected
gifts for young children, or in many cases, grandchildren who lived with them. Some
families who came are homeless. Others are in low income housing, raising
grandchildren whose parents are in prison, on the streets or dead.

On Wednesday, 146 ladies came in to select all kinds of gently used clothing, shoes, bags,
and other items for women. Each year the staff marvels at how long the ladies take to
pick out their items.

On Thursday, 165 men were permitted to select new work boots, shoes, underwear,
blankets, gently used towels, shirts, jackets, socks and other clothing items. Each year
we laugh about how quickly the men just grab what they need regardless of color or
pattern.

Each shopper receives a prayer and word of encouragement after they finish shopping.
Our guests rarely refuse prayer. They are always grateful and often teary eyed as we
pray personally for each one and their family members. We try to give each person a
hug or a handshake. Each one receives something that money cannot buy. Each one
has an opportunity to be treated like a “normal” person. Perhaps in days to come that
feeling will warm their hearts when they discover their blanket has been stolen or
picked up in a “sweep.”

Thank you so much for helping us to help many who are unable to do very much to help
themselves. Your generosity to those who are less fortunate has always blessed me.
The people of Hawaii are some of the most generous in the country. I know that
because I talk to other directors in our network. The prophet Isaiah wrote in Is. 58:7, “Is
it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your
house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and do not ignore your own flesh and
blood?” Your giving has enabled us to be your hands and feet in reaching the
downtrodden.

In the next newsletter, I should have an update on our talks with the City concerning our
feeding operation moving to the building on Sumner Street across from IHS. God bless you all.

May you and your family have a blessed New Year.

In His Service,

Bob Marchant