Archive 2008 - 2019

First Baptist Church Dedication of Christmas Bags for Boston Homeless Mission

by June Foster

The First Baptist Church started the Christmas Bag initiative four years ago where Christmas Bags are made and filled with items our friends on the street can use.  This means our friends get a Christmas Present that is useful and heart-warming.  They collect items all year in order to give the congregation the opportunity to acquire the needed items.  A couple of the ladies from the church actually hand-make the bags and really make them look like Christmas Presents.  Several ladies collect, sort and consolidate the items and then they have an event at the church where they fill the bags.

Then, on the Sunday before we distribute them, we have the Pastor bless the bags at the morning service.  The bags usually include hats, gloves, nail clippers, files, socks, soap, shampoo, combs, candy and many other small items.  It is a wonderful feeling to see the faces on our homeless friends when they receive what will probably be their only Christmas present.

The Boston Homeless Mission has been in existence for more than 20 years. It had humble beginnings, where one or two individuals would travel to Boston and distribute clothing. The participants are currently comprised of individuals from local churches, the Holliston First Baptist Church, St. Joseph’s Parish in Medway and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish of Millis. Over the years the word has spread about this mission and several churches have participated and donated items.

Currently they have approximately 10—14 individuals driving into Boston from Medway, MA (approximately 35 miles) every Monday evening (Holidays included) in a 3-5 car convoy.  They distribute donated clothing that was washed, sorted, sized and labeled by members of the church, sandwiches and baked goods (approximately 400-600) made by individuals from the church and sometimes from a variety of other organizations like the Girls and Boys Scouts and Church Youth Groups; homemade soup made by volunteers using their personal funds; bottled water donated by Poland Springs; socks, underwear and toiletries purchased with donations, and blankets.  Many of the volunteers are retirees living on a fixed income, but still donate their time and finances to make this mission a success.

(Above, left to Right, Judy Parker, Doris Seaman, Coleene McNeillie, and Marilyn Douglas pack the bags.)

A normal night has the team meeting at the Saint Joseph Parish Center at the 5:45pm.  They load the vehicles with the food, water, clothing, blankets, and toiletries.  They pray for safety and that they might provide a smile, a kind word, a thoughtful ear, along with the food and clothing to these individuals.  It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive to our distribution point.  They set up right on the street and sidewalk.  Since this mission has been going on for a number of years there are always 30-50 people (and they see large increases as the weather gets warmer) waiting for them when they arrive at 7:00pm. They set up a table next to the food pick-up truck and establish a mini assembly line where they put a bottle of water, 2-4 sandwiches, and snacks in bags (donated by Roche Bros stores) and hand them out to the individuals. They also distribute donated loaves of bread from local stores and bakeries along with the hot soup.

They usually have three or four other stations set up out of the trunks and backseats of the other vehicles.  One car will have clothing (pants, shirts, sweatshirts); one car will have the socks, underwear and toiletries; and one car will have the coats, gloves, hats, and blankets/sleeping bags. On an average night they will serve anywhere from 50 – 125 individuals.  They stay until they have exhausted all of their supplies which usually takes between 60-90 minutes.

In the past on occasion they would have food left over and would then distribute it to one of the Boston Homeless Shelters.  Due to the economic down turn, they have seen an increase in the number of clients and at same time a decrease in donations. They no longer have food or other items left over and sadly there are occasions when they run out of food, clothing and toiletries.  They have had to become very innovative to make the donations go further.  For example they collect small prescription bottles and then fill them with shampoo, lotion and conditioner.  This way they can buy the large economically priced bottles of these products and make single use bottles of these items, as our homeless friends do not have room to carry large bottles. These efforts allow them to distribute more with less.

The volunteers are truly outstanding individuals.  There are people who clean, size, sort the clothing; others make the sandwiches and deliver them to the departure location; others use the monetary donations to purchase the socks, underwear and toiletries; others fill these little pill bottles and then there is the team that drives to Boston each week.  They are not reimbursed for tolls or gas and both of those expenses are increasing not decreasing.

(Above, left to Right, Doris Seaman and Virginia Brown pack more bags.)

Bottled water is a high demand item especially in summer.  They distribute approximately 400 cases annually. They have been blessed over the past three years with a donation of 400 cases of bottled water and Poland Springs granted the request each year.  Other high demand items are individually wrapped snacks (cookies, chips, and pretzels), shampoo, soap, conditioner, razor blades, small tooth paste, tooth brushes, deodorant, sanitizer wipes, single pack tissues and men’s tube socks. They also collect small empty prescription bottles that they fill with shampoo, hand lotion and conditioner.

To schedule a drop off of items, please contact:

Coleene McNeillie – 508-533-7552 – First Baptist Church, Holliston, OR

Ed Mason -781- 640-4732 – First Baptist Church

Sheila Marshall – 508-735-3746 – St. Joseph’s Parish, Medway

If you would prefer to give a monetary donation, please make checks payable to:

First Baptist Church – with a note in the memo section that says Boston Homeless Mission

Mail to: First Baptist Church, 40 High Street, Holliston, MA 01746