Special from the Adams Rescue Mission

By Lex McMillan

After 14 years struggling to make an abusive marriage work, she finally realized that she had to escape with her four children ages thirteen to four.  Under cover of darkness, she left her home and headed to Southcentral Pennsylvania where her sister lives.  Since arriving she has taken refuge in various local shelters and is working two part-time jobs trying to lay the foundation for a better life for herself and her children.  With help from the Housing Authority, she has found an apartment and will be moving in before Christmas.

Like many others in our community, she is among the working poor, unable despite their labors to meet their basic needs.  Pennsylvania is one of 21 states that has not increased its hourly minimum wage of $7.25 since it was mandated by Federal law in 2009.  Every state bordering Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage, and 21 states increased their minimum wage in 2020.  These include Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.

She and her children will benefit from the Adams Rescue Mission’s Adopt-A-Family Program along with more than 120 other families and almost 400 children who are living in poverty in our community.  The program is coordinated by Jennifer Punchard, the director of ARM’s Agape House. It began small 13 years ago with a handful of sponsors buying Christmas gifts for the children living at the Mission’s family shelter on Chambersburg Street. Since then, the program has grown dramatically to provide a happy Christmas for many families in our community.

Families must meet criteria regarding income and assets in order to qualify for the program. All applicants complete a wish list of gifts for their children who range in age from fourteen to infants.  Sponsors then purchase gifts to meet those wishes.  The more than 190 sponsors this year include most of the churches in our area, schools, as well as individuals. One organization supported 25 children, others only one. Jennifer told me of a woman who can only afford a $15 gift each year but has been faithful year after year.  I recalled the story of the “widow’s mite.” She said that many of the families who are sponsors recall their own childhoods when Christmas was a time of stress relieved by generous people who brought love and cheer to their families. “They want to pay it forward,” Jennifer said.

The Intersection Church is providing the space for the participating families to pick up their children’s gifts a few days before Christmas.  ARM staff and volunteers gather to wrap the gifts and match them to the children’s wishes.  It is a joyful occasion, a time to connect, experience God’s unconditional love, and grow in faith.  If you’d like to help or learn more, you can contact Jennifer at jlpunchard@gmail.com.

The Adams Rescue Mission exists to proclaim the passion of Jesus toward the hungry, homeless, abused, and addicted; to accelerate recovery and restoration to the least, last, lonely, and lost.  Lex McMillan is an ARM board member.

To support the Mission: http://www.adamsrescuemission.org/donate-now.