ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Each year a Rockford homeless shelter fires up the kitchen to feed hundreds on Christmas Eve.
Rockford Rescue Mission makes sure those who don’t have a place to celebrate the holidays still have a place to gather and feel the Christmas spirit.
They’ve been doing this for 55 years.
“There’s so much worry around the Christmas season of you know, what gifts to give, what to do for family, but people who are experiencing homelessness and going through addiction it’s just an extra layer of burden,” said Rockford Rescue Mission Director of Marketing & Commmunications, Crystal Savage.
Every year the Rockford Rescue Mission tries to relieve some of that stress.
“We’re just like a family. We’re a community here, that they know we’re here, and they know we love them,” Savage said.
Some 500 people, who may not have a place to spend Christmas, get their fill their bellies and spend time with old friends, and some new ones like Aaron Dorsey.
“To celebrate with the people and give respect to Rockford Rescue Mission for saving my life,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey says he came from a broken home, and he looked to drugs and alcohol for comfort.
“My mother told me it was okay to drink and use drugs, and it brought me here 32 years later,” Dorsey said.
Within the walls of the mission there are many stories of people overcoming hardships in their life.
Dorsey said this year he’s grateful for the meal, and the help he’s receiving.
“Giving back. Saying thank you for helping me because without this place, and without God utilizing it… I’d probably be dead,” Dorsey said. “This is a great place to be. The staff cares about you. They love you. They help you with all the areas you need, and even when it comes to grief.”
Dorsey isn’t a victim to drugs and alcohol anymore, and has advice for those who are struggling this holiday season.
“Never give up. If you keep praying, keep searching, and getting back up, eventually the miracle will happen,” Dorsey said. “But you got to keep trying, and this is the best place..this is the best place I’ve ever been.”
100 volunteers helped serve at the Rockford Rescue Mission on Christmas Eve, and all of the food was donated by the community.
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