A Merry Christmas from St. Matthew’s House DECEMBER 2019

What if December had no Christmas?

A word from Vann Ellison, President & CEO

Just think how empty December would be without Christmas. No joyful greetings, no cards or presents. No special meals with family and friends. Nothing to look forward to. The 25th would be just another ordinary day.

This is what Christmas feels like for people experiencing homelessness. They’re alone. They have no joy in their lives. Every day is just as bleak as the one before it.

But December does have Christmas. And thanks to you, our homeless neighbors have St. Matthew’s House—a place to rest, recover and experience real life transformation. Not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.

You provide a place where hurting men, women and children can gather and wonder at the birth of Christ, just as the shepherds gathered around Him in the stable. Jesus came to shine His light for everyone who looks for hope—especially “the least of these.”

Thank you for bringing the joy of Christ to those who hunger for a better life. A very merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

Did You Know?

  • Last year, we distributed approximately 7,200 holiday meals the week before Christmas! Then we served 550 meals on Christmas Day in the Campbell Lodge, Immokalee Friendship House, Alva and Labelle.
  • 469 men, women and children at St. Matthew’s House each received three to five beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts.
  • 208 volunteers wrapped gifts, distributed holiday meals and prepared or served Christmas dinner in the Campbell Lodge. In all, that was 494 hours of service!
  • This year, we will no doubt serve more meals and provide more gifts with help from friends like you. Thank you!

“Santa” Shares His Gift for Making People Happy

How many children, when they meet a department-store Santa, are tempted to pull on his beard and see if it’s real? At St. Matthew’s House, our Santa’s whiskers are the real deal!

“I’ve had a beard for 30-some years,” says Sam Nolder, who volunteers as Santa for children at the mission. “I start growing it out in July. If kids ask to tug on it, I say, ‘Yes, but you have to pull easy. If you don’t, you’ll be on my naughty list!’”

Actually, Sam (or should we say Santa?) doesn’t seem to have a naughty list. He makes sure all of the boys and girls at St. Matthew’s House get gifts and some personal attention at our Christmas party. He also makes sure they understand the difference between Santa Claus and Jesus Christ.

“I had a little guy ask me if I would heal his sister,” Sam recalls. “I said, ‘Son, Santa doesn’t heal.’ He said, ‘I thought Santa could do anything.’ I told him only Jesus can do anything, but that Santa will pray for your sister. Jesus is the only one who can heal.”

Sam and his wife have been friends of St. Matthew’s House almost since its inception. Retired now, Sam is a former truck driver with many years of experience in the moving business. For several years, he shared his expertise by teaching St. Matthew’s House drivers how to move furniture professionally.

However, Sam’s calling today is being Santa to the St. Matthew’s House children—and entertaining their parents. “It’s a gift from the Lord to make people happy,” he says.

Events: The Longest Night

Saturday, December 21st is the longest night of the year … and a very special one for residents, friends and staff of St. Matthew’s House. Events begin at 2:30 at the Campbell Lodge and continue into the evening. Please join us for:

The Longest Night Student Outreach Event at 2:30 p.m.

We’ve invited local junior high and high school youth ministries to engage directly in some of the biggest and most complicated issues—poverty, homelessness, hunger and addiction—right alongside us. We believe no person is too young and no voice too small to begin learning and advocating for the least of these.

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day Candlelight Vigil 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Join advocates, service providers, homeless and formerly homeless residents, religious leaders and concerned citizens as we honor the lives and dreams of members of the St. Matthew’s House family who died in 2019.

St. Matthew’s House Christmas Party at Campbell Lodge

Immediately following the Candlelight Vigil, St. Matthew’s House staff will hold a Christmas party with gifts for our shelter and recovery program residents. For many of our residents, this may be the first Christmas in quite some time they receive a new item or article of clothing.

Questions? Contact David Welch at dwelch@stmatthewshouse.org

Event Location and Details:

  • St. Matthew’s House, 2601 Airport Road South, Naples
  • December 21, 2019
  • 2:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Youth Outreach 2:30 p.m. and Candlelight Vigil 6:00 p.m.)
  • Free Dinner Provided
  • RSVP to David Welch by December 14 at dwelch@stmatthewshouse.org

We're looking to expand our reach in the community and we would love to know what you find most important about St. Matthew’s House. Thank you!

2601 Airport Road, South • Naples, FL 34112



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