I met my friend Michelle Hodgson Bleeker at the Bootcamp I attend; she’s one of those hard-nosed instructors who works you over and makes seated in-and-outs look easy. She brings the same sort of passion into her weekly volunteer work on behalf of Orange County’s homeless community through her church; an efforts she’s led over the last year after starting in 2013.
Michelle and her friends from Good Shepherd Church in Irvine serve dinner every Wednesday night at the homeless shelter in Santa Ana at 400 Civic Center Drive at the old Bus Station. My wife and I volunteered with some other bootcamp friends last night and we served close to 320 meals. Isaiah House in Santa Ana prepares the food on Wednesday night (and a couple of other days during the week) and City Net coordinates the food service at the shelter with a goal of three meals a day, seven days a week. City Net coordinates the volunteers serving food.
Last night’s meal was baked chicken legs, mashed potatoes, ziti with tomato sauce, salad, a variety of breads and desserts. There were care packages for homeless residents who have dogs and cats with food, collars, pet toys, blankets, as well as personal hygiene packages for residents. In addition, Michelle coordinates bread and dessert donations from Ralph’s supermarket in Irvine. The Isaiah House lets homeless residents use the church’s address as a mail stop and personal mail is distributed to homeless residents every Wednesday night; there was boxes of mail.
Good Shepherd Church has been feeding the homeless for nine years now. Michelle has run the Wednesday night dinner for the past year.
“The thing that compels me to spend my time doing this is that I am blessed to have a home and always have food on my table,” she said. “I want to give back and I like how every penny that is put into this goes directly to the cause.”
This is the first time my wife and I have volunteered during the Holiday season. The residents were kind, courteous and grateful. They said “thank you” many times when the reality is, no thanks are required. I didn’t need a thing from them. I wish I could do more.
And on the subject of kindness, there’s something everyone can do and that’s to make a donation – and not just at Christmas, but regularly. You can donate things, money or time. But if you’re stuck, here’s what the shelter needs:
Courtyard Needs List
Below is a list of ongoing supplies needed at the Courtyard. You may deliver items to The Courtyard, 400 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana. Staff at the front check in desk can receive items between 7 am and 7 pm every day. Donation receipts are available upon request.
Please note: We do not accept perishable food items, canned goods, or children’s clothing.
WE DO NOT HAVE A NEED FOR ANYMORE CLOTHING, WINTER WEAR, OR BLANKETS!
- Coffee Cups (8 oz)
- Sugar, Creamer, Non-Sugar packets)
- Cases of bottled water
- “Just add hot water” meals
- Granola Bars
- Fruit cups
- Crackers and cheese packets
- Plates, napkins, plastic utensils
- Laundry Detergent
- Plastic Gloves Large
- Large Trash Bags
- Brown Lunch Bags
- 1 Gallon Ziplock Bags
- Paper Towels
- 1st Aid Kit supplies – gauze, tape, etc.
- Printer Ink (HP #63 black and tricolor)
- Office supplies: printer paper, pens, highlighters, Post-It notes
- Shampoo and Body Wash (Large bottles)
- Small Dixie Cups
- New and/or gently used bath towels
- Men and Women Underwear – all sizes (new)
- Bus Passes – can be purchased at local grocery store
- Gift Cards – Target, Dollar Store, etc.
- Relocation Funds – in cash donations for guests who are on the list to be reunited with family
out of state and need funds to purchase tickets
Cash Donations: Checks made out to City Net and mailed to PO Box 90243, Long Beach,
Every penny of tax-deductible donations designated for “Courtyard Guests” will be
spent on resources for homeless neighbors.
If you would like to make a one-time or monthly donation using your credit card please visit http://www.bedrockcreek.com/donate/ (mark Santa Ana Courtyard Transition Center)
For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 714-494-9418
I’m grateful to Michelle for asking us to help last night and to see first-hand the situation at the bus depot. Our last volunteering effort was during the summer before the shelter opened and there were significantly more people who needed help now than then. She’s making a real difference in the lives of strangers who need kindness more than ever.
This holiday season, please find it in your hearts to give to those who have almost nothing.