Churches Asking For Help Replacing Red Kettle Gifts

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Without local bell ringers for the Salvation Army this year, the Greater Hillsboro Ministerial Fellowship is depending on mail-in donations to help people in their darkest times.

The ministerial fellowship is asking for donations to their “Tree of Lights Charity Campaign for giving Help and Hope.” Send a gift by check made out to “Greater Hillsboro Ministerial Fellowship” with “Tree of Lights” in the memo to GHMF, c/o St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 266, Hillsboro, IL 62049.  Donations may also be dropped off at the Hillsboro Salvation Army Thrift Store ore mailed to them at 237 S. Main St., Hillsboro, IL 62049.

“Your gifts will be greatly appreciated as we struggle to work together in this time of crisis to assist our neighbors in their time of need,” the Rev. Harry Meyer of the Hillsboro Salvation Army Unit said.

Funds raised are used for financial assistance to neighbors with emergency needs to provide clothing, food, transportation and lodging throughout the entire year. 

Without local bell ringers for the Salvation Army due to the pandemic, the ministerial fellowship will not have any contributions from the red kettles.

“Please be as generous as you are able,” Pastor Stefan Munker of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hillsboro said.  “This year’s funds ran out in June. The need sadly is greater than ever, and area churches are often the last resort.”

When people have exhausted all other support or don’t know where to turn, they often come to churches and ask for help with emergencies, the pastor noted. 

Most of the time pastors are asked to help get fresh produce, or pay for gas to get to a doctor appointment, or spend the night in a motel before getting back on the road. 

“While that may not seem very much it is often enough to get someone through a rough patch,” Pastor Munker said. “The churches in our area are working collarboratively to make sure those who can’t get any more help otherwise and are in real need of both charity and hope in an emergency can get financial assistance. Pastors share information with each other , regarding who has been helped and in what way. While there is flexibility for individual circumstances, limits are set for how often and how much people can get.”

Because of limited funds the type of support is limited to food and clothing, gas vouchers, and one night lodging. There is usually an assessment made about the reason for a request and to find out if other sources are available. There is a commitment to show dignity and compassion, but also a desire to address underlying causes of poverty by making referrals to other organizations.

Other institutions or charities already provide rent or utility assistance, prescription co-pays, or social services. The Greater Hillsboro Ministerial Fellowship works with those agencies in providing help in emergency situations. 

“For some time leaders of the fellowship have been dreaming of having greater independence and control over funds, and setting up their own location for short-term shelter and professional social worker support in the community,” Pastor Munker said. “The Harvest of Hope pantry is one example of how churches and the community can come together to make sure people in need have somewhere to go and receive more than a handout.”

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