The Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission, located on Portage Road, the former YMCA, is hosting its sixth annual "Feed the Falls" event, during which time it expects to deliver between 1,500 and 1,600 meals. This year, the delivered meals will go to homes in Niagara Falls, as well as in rural areas of Niagara County.
The organization, which began this outreach by delivering meals on Thanksgiving in 2011, added meal deliveries on Christmas Day in 2013 and, last year, delivered over 1,000 meals on Christmas Day.
Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission Interim Executive Director Tom McLaughlin said, "We are really excited that we are in our sixth year and are so thankful that we received so much support from the community over the years to make this a success. Our prayer is that we can make Thanksgiving a happy and memorable day for the people we serve this year, showing them the love of Jesus Christ and the hope that is found in him alone."
McLaughlin has been involved in Rescue Ministry for 29 years. He served at the Buffalo City Rescue Mission for 11 years, the Syracuse City Rescue Mission for 10 years and has done these types of meal deliveries there, too. For the past six years, Shaun Smith, founder of the Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission, has worked together with McLaughlin to make "Feed the Falls" happen in Niagara Falls and the surrounding areas.
Alicia Bellingham, volunteer coordinator and ministry assistant for the Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission, described the event as one in which the community and churches come together to reach out to those in need.
"This is our opportunity to live out our faith in Jesus Christ and go beyond the walls of the church," she said. "God calls us to provide for his people; to visit those who are in need, alone, and reaching out for help. 'Feed the Falls' is a way for people of all ages to come together and help all of those who are in need.
"It is amazing to see hundreds of volunteers - from all different churches, areas and all ages - come together with one purpose for the same cause. The excitement of the volunteers - at the 'Turkey Carving Party' held at The Chapel at CrossPoint, the 'Pie Party,' which is held at Niagara Community Church, and the work done on Thanksgiving Day at First Assembly of God Church in Niagara Falls - is contagious, and this event could not happen without the hundreds of people who give of their time."
The organization has opened a special "meal hotline," in which people can request meals now through Tuesday, Nov. 22. To request a Thanksgiving meal, call 716-253-1GOD between noon and 5 p.m.
Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission is also accepting volunteers and financial support to make this event happen. Anyone wishing to volunteer, donate food or provide financial support for Thanksgiving or Christmas can contact Bellingham at [email protected] or call 716-205-8805.
McLaughlin said, "This could not happen without the support of our community, and it is such a great opportunity for us to come together. Thank you so much in advance for your help and support."