Santa will be getting a little help this year when it comes to gifts for a group of inner-city boys and girls who are counting on Arms of Hope for their holiday cheer. Thanks to the generosity of students at four Dallas area high schools and one junior college, Christmas will be very special indeed.
On Wednesday, December 8, Arms of Hope Director of Outreach Ministry Terry Drake will have the very enjoyable task of driving a large storage truck to Red Oak, Ennis, Burleson and Mesquite Poteet high schools and Navarro Junior College to pick up Christmas gifts for the youngsters who are all part of the Arms of Hope family. Members of the baseball teams at all five schools have spent the last few weeks collecting clothes, toys and other much needed items for a massive Christmas drive to benefit more than 200 at-risk boys and girls, ages 3 to 13, from East San Antonio and South Dallas.
“I’m going to make my rounds like Santa, pick everything up, divide it and deliver it,” Drake said. “It’s just amazing what these teams are doing for our children.”
The project was born when Red Oak varsity baseball coach Heath Autrey met Drake at a golf outing. The two began chatting, and Drake told Autrey about Arms of Hope, a not-for-profit Christian organization focused on helping some of the most disadvantaged children and single-mother families in Texas. In addition to operating two children’s homes – Boles Children’s Home (40 miles northeast of Dallas) and Medina Children’s Home (60 miles northwest of San Antonio) – Arms of Hope’s Outreach Ministry program provides assistance to underprivileged youth in inner-city neighborhoods across Texas. The Christmas drive will help youngsters who are members of two inner-city sports teams sponsored by Arms of Hope, who face extremely challenging economic situations, often making Christmas a true challenge for their families.
“I told Terry that day, ‘We are going to help you out,’” Autrey said. “’I have 60 kids in my baseball program and I have other close friends who are coaches with other baseball programs and we are going to get what you need.’”
The baseball programs at Ennis, Poteet and Burleson, as well as Navarro Junior College, quickly jumped on board. Red Oak athletics took it one step further, with all of their sports programs from football and soccer to softball and basketball joining in.
“After seeing Terry’s passion, I made it a goal of mine to let everyone know about Arms of Hope,” Autrey said. “I even have a friend who is in the cosmetics business who is sending cases of make-up and beauty products that we can give to the single moms.”
After talking with Drake, Autrey said he sat his baseball team down, told them about Arms of Hope and the needy children it assists and asked them if they wanted to help. The decision was unanimous.
“I let them validate it,” Autrey said. “I wanted them to take ownership of it. That way they are more committed and they’ve been really excited about it. They’re all over it. It’s also a great opportunity to see our students learn the importance of helping others in need. It just keeps spreading, too, which is pretty neat. It shows there are still people out there who care.”
If you would like to accompany Terry on his December 8 Christmas pickup tour and meet the student athletes at Red Oak High School or any of the participating schools, please contact Drake at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Arms of Hope and its programs, please visit ArmsofHope.org.