Homeless Shelter Marks 40 Years Of Serving Up Holiday Feasts - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/25/05

Homeless Shelter Marks 40 Years Of Serving Up Holiday Feasts

In honor of his 100th Christmas, Oliver West of Gulfport was placed first in line at the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission's 40th annual Christmas Feast. 

He says it's been so long he can't remember exactly how many years he's been coming to this place he calls his second home.

But he'll never forget what all those years have meant to him.

"It means a wonderful life," says West. "It sure does. I just thank God for the privilege and honor that I have for coming to this place."

West's long life is just one of many thousands that this ministry has touched.

"We minister in a good year to 20 thousand people a year," says Tom Mims, the Missions Executive Director. "But we've ministered to over 20 thousand people since Hurricane Katrina."

In fact, Mims says the Hurricane nearly brought the Missions daily good deeds to an end.

"We weren't sure we were going to make it. We lost all our roofs and we're just 4 blocks off the water. So its special that we're here," says Mims. 

But Katrina also brought people like Fritz Cayo of Lansing Michigan, who came for work in the rebuilding effort, and is moved by the rescue missions welcome to everyone seeking holiday food and fellowship.

"It's nice that people would do this," says Cayo. "You know, take time from their own families and what not to come out here and help people that need it."

People like Caroline Williams of Biloxi, who had little before the storm, and even less now.

But her body and spirit, fed by the kindness of the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission, remains strong.

"Katrina was a big wake up for me," says Williams. "But I'm thankful. I'm thankful. Whatever I go through, I know God's got me."

By Don Culpepper

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