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Guys, I've been looking for that Chicago church I told you about - the one that feeds all the homeless and needy families on Christmas. All I knew was that it was somewhere in the 9000s on Ashland. We've been driving up and down in the early evenings, with no luck. We've been frustrated and increasingly disheartened, and I was losing my sense that the Santa Project would, as always, have a happy ending.

Finally, we decided to drive up and down the avenue on a Sunday morning, in the hopes that a crowd of Sunday churchgoers would help us find the church. The problem was, this area of the city is extremely poverty-stricken and desolate. In addition, complicating our search was the enormous number of tiny, out-of-the-way, and/or unidentified churchs in that part of town.

This morning, we got up very early, packed up some coffee, and trundled off in the car again. This time, we got lucky right away - a huge hand-made banner in front of a small storefront church ("HELP US FEED 3,000 HOMELESS MOTHERS AND CHILDREN") let us know that we had finally found the place!

I walked right in and talked to the folks there. They are simply amazing. I have to say, I have really been down since the miscarriage - just sort of trudging through life. But there was something about this place that made me feel, for the first time in a long time, really good. These people clearly have a mission, and they were working feverishly to complete it.

I told them that I have many friends across the world who, every year, get together to help some kids. They were amazed and delighted and so grateful.

They said that they need the following items most of all:
- Toys for the homeless kids
- Turkeys or hams for the moms and kids (many people donate food, but almost no one donates meat)

Toys, mittens, scarves, and other goodies for children can be mailed directly to the church at:

United Church of Christ/Paul Hall Center
9039 South Ashland
Chicago, IL 60620
Telephone: 773-881-0092, 773-298-1209

I have no idea how to donate food - I guess if some of you want to send me some grocery store gift certificates, I could purchase turkeys and then deliver them myself. It seems like it would be awfully hard to mail a turkey. (But why can't it just fly there? Ha! Ha! <groan>).

As I was leaving, a woman followed me out to the car and put her hand on my arm. I turned around and she embraced me. She said, "Please tell your friends that we bless them for what they intend to do here, and for what they will do, and for what is in their hearts."

As we were driving home, I was thinking that every year I have to learn this same lesson over again - that you start out doing good because you think it's for other people, but then somewhere along the way, you realize that it's actually for you - it's to save your own life.

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