The Hixson Seventh Day Adventist Church is a small congregation with a big heart. For nearly three months the congregation of fewer than 50 has been collecting and organizing donations as part of it's annual Christmas program benefiting Chattanooga's homeless.
"Thinking of things they're needing out there. Things that they don't have readily available," says church member Sylvia Knoch.
Things such as blankets, sleeping bags, scarves, and gloves to help those stuck on the streets stay a little warmer. Snack foods as well as personal items like soap and shampoo have been dropped off, too.
The items are placed in around 200 backpacks, making for special gift packages to be handed out to those in need at a Christmas dinner later this month. Because having a backpack can mean everything to a person without a home, Knoch says filling one with simple items can mean everything.
"We want to share and bring a little bit of joy into someone's life that looks pretty bleak," says Knoch.
Even if it's just for one day, adds Knoch, it's important.
She's going a step further and has her local software company lending a hand. Employees, including Kris Rose, are donating, wrapping, and organizing. He found out years ago what it's like to need a "hand up" during tough times.
"My apartment complex almost completely burned down. So I had almost nothing. Thanks to the fine people of Chattanooga I got back on my feet," explains Rose.
He received help from local churches and other organizations.
"This is a good way to give back," Rose says of helping with the donation drive.
Everyone involved says it's about trying to lift the spirits of those who benefit as high as possible.
"Even though they're without a home, we want to make them feel important," says Knoch.
If you'd like to make a donation, please contact the Hixson Seventh Day Adventist Church at 423-386-5451. Someone there can tell you what is needed and when you can drop off. The Christmas party where the homeless will receive their gift packages is December 15 at the Olivet Baptist Church in downtown Chattanooga.