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Live Love Christmas Recap, Looking forward to 2021

Becky Hanenkrat

WOW! Is the end of January already??

I have barely had time to breathe. We have been really busy at LLNW. We have been closing out our 2020 Live Love Christmas event (read more on this below!), planning our 2021 event calendar with our partner Mannahouse, and as your Executive Director, I am getting settled in after a whirlwind “honeymoon” since being hired in October.

For those of you are familiar with our outreach, Live Love Christmas was an amazing love-sharing event that stretched across the Portland / Vancouver and even Eugene, OR area. Despite COVID, we served over 1500 families with over 6000 gifts for children, gave away over 300 bicycles, wrangled over 500 volunteers, served refreshments to all who came, and shared hope, dignity and the Love of Christ at Christmas. Read more about it below…

It was an amazingly impactful year. The testimonials we received for our 2020 events of Miracle Miles/Big Give, and the Foster family Halloween drive-through Families for Families were so heartwarming. In a year where so many have so little, we have been so blessed by donors –actual gift donations and welcome financial donations were the reason it was possible.

We are not stopping now! Our 2021 plans include hosting some kind of event every month for outreach and impact. We are planning a fundraiser in May, and a golf tournament in August, and of course, we are already planning Live Love Christmas 2021.

Live Love Christmas:

Live Love NW and Mannahouse, along with all of the sponsors and partners, gave hope, dignity and joy for our 10th annual Live Love Christmas! Despite all of the COVID restrictions, we served over 6000 children ages 0-18, both on the event day, and afterwards. That’s 6000 children who received gifts, bikes, and parental love on Christmas that might have gone without.

These were families facing hardships that were nominated by ODHS, DCYF and school districts. On December 19th, the parents came to one of four Mannahouse campuses and “shopped” for Christmas gifts. Each was assigned a personal shopper who helped them select the “Right Gift” for each child along with wrapping paper and bows.

Each campus had hospitality tents set up outside, where our partner Starbucks set up a hot drink ‘corner’. Everyone was offered prayer, food, coffee and hot chocolate. The Starbucks baristas were decked out in Christmas outfits, and had such a fun time with the parents! The atmosphere was one of joy and celebration, and honoring those families.

We were blessed to receive gifts from the KGW Toy Drive, KPTV (Fox12), Toys for Tots, Barnes & Noble, Mannahouse, Ferguson Plumbing, Starbucks, Sunridge Dental and Gresham Smile Design. We also had help financially with gifts or discounts from Chown Hardware, The Party Place, US Digital, Costco, Minuteman Press and many individual donors that enabled us to make it special.

To make an event like this happen, we can’t forget the volunteers!!! Both before, during and after the events, we had over 500 volunteers, with well over 4200 hours to make Live Love Christmas come true.

This year, the Eugene campus did something slightly different, on December 10th, we provided a “Christmas party in a box” for over 150 local foster kids and 130 birth parents were served. Each box included gifts for the foster kids and birth parents as well as fun activities and Christmas snacks. These boxes were used for Christmas time visits helping create a fun and positive memory for birth parents and their children currently placed in foster care. We heard wonderful testimonies of how these Christmas boxes brought dignity, joy and fun into the lives of birth parents and their biological children placed in foster care.

2021 Planning:

So right now, we are working on our 2021 plans. As the Executive Director, I am challenging myself to get out into the community and network more. (ZOOM-style for now). As an example, LLNW has become a member of the Non-profit Association of Oregon, and I hope to benefit from the deep knowledge base that group has to offer. I plan to reach out to each of our largest supporters to personally thank them for their support. I am building a Sponsorship/Partnership/Event sponsorship agreement, so that we have clear offerings for those who are interested in supporting our efforts. I am also planning fundraising events – an online event sometime in May, and a Live Love NW Golf Tournament in August. Who wants to play golf for a great cause? Get together your favorite foursome, and as soon as I have the date locked, I will want you to sign up!

From a program side, we are working closely with Mannahouse to build out the plans for our Foster Family support, our Sex Trafficking Survivor support, our City Care – including Law enforcement rest stops, and believe it or not, we are ALREADY working on Live Love Christmas 2021! We are working on ‘mini-events’ once a month instead of one or two really large events for each program – Live Love Christmas being the exception.

As some of you know, one of the things we have as a goal at LLNW is to get a ‘popup’ warehouse for Live Love Christmas two month before the event, for sorting, storage, and distribution of the gifts we receive. If you know anyone who might be able to help with that, please contact me.

I will keep you posted on our events – and the impact we are having in the Portland/Vancouver area. As you know, Love Doesn’t Look Away.

Your donations for the work we do are always welcome. Please consider becoming a monthly subscriber by signing up to donate each month. If you have a Donor Advised Fund, we are an eligible organization to receive. And lastly, don’t wait until December to give – we want to make an impact sooner rather than later.

Blessings to you!

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