This holiday season eleven of our US-MC workers served with Operation Golden Christmas, a ministry initiative of Crossroads Ministry. The mission of Crossroads Ministries is to help meet the spiritual and emotional needs of the elderly who reside in our communities’ care centers.
Operation Golden Christmas, started 12 years ago, is about giving some meaningful gifts and attention to those living in long-term care facilities at Christmastime. Since Crossroads Ministries’ office is in our building, it was easy for One Challenge to join in donating and delivering gifts.
Crossroads collected some 10,000 gifts …
In the weeks preceding Christmas, Crossroads collected some 10,000 gifts donated by churches, Bible colleges, organizations, radio station listeners, and individuals. Gift bags containing four or five gifts were packaged up and designated for a man or a woman.
Gifts that are cherished by the residents are blankets, caps, puzzles, gloves, scarves, calendars, personal hygiene items, and stuffed animals. “They love stuffed animals,” says Kay Owen Larson, Founder and CEO of Crossroads Ministries.
Delivering bags of cheer …
Kay explained that Operation Golden Christmas got started to tangibly show the residents of long-term care facilities they are not forgotten, unloved, or worse, expendable. While such facilities do tend to get more visitors at Christmas time, most visiting groups sing carols and don’t necessarily interact individually with the residents or gift them with anything substantial. Crossroads tries to do a little more.
Our group of 11, under the direction of Nicole, assistant activity coordinator, had the privilege of hand delivering over 100 gift bags to the residents of The Living Center at Sunny Vista. Not only were we able to cheer the residents with a fun bag of gifts, but also give a warm Christmas greeting, a smile, a prayer, or a touch of the hand. Kay explains, “Those living in these care facilities get only seconds a day of loving touch.”
Does a short Christmas visit really make a difference?
Nicole believes it’s quite significant. Kay says, “It gives them a little bit of love and hope, at least for that day.” Our experience confirmed that. Many residents responded with kind words of gratitude, a smile, or a story. The knock on the door wasn’t an uninvited interruption to their day, but a nice reason to turn off a tv, or wake from a slumber. One resident unpacked a stuffed animal and exclaimed, “It’s exactly like the dog I wasn’t allowed to bring with me when I moved here.” Her joy and pleasure were obvious, and contagious.
No one needs a special ‘calling’ to do this kind of ministry …
Kay says, “No one needs a special ‘calling’ to do this kind of ministry. James 1:27 tells us to take care of orphans and widows. These folks are both orphans and widows. They don’t have anyone and 80% are widows or widowers.” National statistics show that 85% of residents in long-term care don’t have any regular visitors and 50% don’t have a living relative to advocate for them.
This year with Operation Golden Christmas Crossroads expressed their passion for care center residents in skilled care, memory care, and assisted living centers in 32 facilities in Colorado Springs, Cripple Creek, Northern Colorado, Woodland Park and Pueblo. Moving into the new year they will continue to live out their mission to improve the spiritual and emotional care of the elderly living in skilled and assisted care centers through one-on-one visits, on-going Bible study, and friendship, thereby improving their overall quality of life.
If you want to be blessed and be a blessing …
If you want to be blessed and be a blessing, contact Crossroads Ministries and they will guide you how to make a difference in the lives of the elderly in care facilities. http://crossroadsusa.org/contact/