Christmas while living on Chattanooga's streets
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- A local church brought Christmas to hundreds of people in Chattanooga who are either homeless, or just can't afford life's necessities in Miller Park.
A warm meal, live entertainment, and gifts to help them survive cold nights on the streets, made for a merrier Christmas than many say they could've ever imagined.
It was a gift giveaway in the heart of a rather desolate downtown Chattanooga on this Christmas that brought smiles to people who say they would've otherwise spent the holiday alone, on the street, hungry... and forget about gifts.
But The Crossing Church wouldn't have that. For ten years, they've brought Christmas joy to people down on their luck, like Shirley Allen.
"Wishing everybody a Merry Christmas and a happy new year," Allen said.
"When I first came here ten years ago, I saw no hope in people. I see hope in people now and that's the ultimate goal," Hope Ministries Organizer Spencer Evans said.
That's why Evans named his visits to Miller Park "Hope Ministries." He and several volunteers deliver food and a message every Sunday there, but he knows first hand that Christmas isn't the time to forget about them.
"Comfort people who need comforting with the comfort you've been comforted with. I slept in my car for a year and a half. I had times when I had nothing. I needed help. I was on the bottom," Evans said.
He's taking his own experiences to lift others when they've hit bottom. Tuesday his church group gave 300 people a hot meal, encouraging songs, and items they need to get by.
"A lot of us die out here with no help at all," Carol Phillips said.
"It's getting cold. It's the time of year people need gloves and socks, toboggans to keep them warm. We're giving away a ton of coats," Evans said.
Plus donated blankets, tents, socks, clothes... and the list goes on.
"Oh that's real good. Feels good," Leslie Townsend said.
"It just brings a little joy to everyone just to know that somebody's there and cares," Phillips said.
The Crossing Church spent the majority of Tuesday afternoon at Miller Park. Before they left, they gave boxes of fresh food to anyone who had access to a refrigerator. All of the clothing they gave out was donated over the last three months.