Holiday Giving Opportunities in Des Moines 2016


This time of year, as we compile Christmas lists and shop for those we love, I’m reminded more than ever that my giving ought to be to more than just my own—that there is so much need right here in the community outside my wreath-adorned door.

Several ministries around the Des Moines metro are devoted to serving our citizens in need, not just at Christmastime, but year round. I’ve contacted a few of them to find out how we can help.

Here are a few ways we can get involved this Christmas and help spread love and cheer beyond our own tree-lit living rooms.

Holiday Giving Opportunities in Des Moines | Des Moines Moms Blog

Zion United

Zion United is a refugee ministry located at Zion Lutheran Church and made possible by people and churches from all over the metro. They believe our involvement with these refugees will help build a strong, integrated community that will change our city and refugees’ lives forever.

Every Wednesday night, Zion feeds about 500 people, mostly refugees. After supper, the ministry offers English and math tutoring for kids and adults and holds a mini church service for the older kids. They develop relationships with these refugees throughout the year and help provide for their basic needs through a clothes closet, daily transportation to school, and help with finding entry-level jobs.

Holiday Giving Opportunities in Des Moines: Zion United | Des Moines Moms Blog

At Christmastime, many of these kids do not receive presents at home due to their poverty. Zion holds a big Christmas party, providing gifts to about 600 refugee children!

“It’s such an exciting night!” says coordinator Sherilyn Rittgers. “Every year we collect presents and set up a Christmas store. The kids get a hoodie sweatshirt and then they get to pick two additional presents from the store. We get 100 baby dolls, 100 soccer balls, 100 remote control cars, 100 Lego sets, 100 pairs of shoes…. The kids love to shop. Some of the kids pick two presents for themselves. Other kids get one for themselves and one for a sibling. It is so touching to watch the evening unfold.”

How You Can Help

For this year’s December 14 Christmas party, Zion United needs your help. Many of the gift tables have already been sponsored, but they still need help collecting soccer balls and remote control cars for their Christmas store. “If you or anyone you know would be willing to help collect these items, we would be so grateful,” Sherilyn says. “We need all gifts by December 10.”

Please feel free to contact Sherilyn Rittgers at [email protected] if you have any questions or are interested in helping with this need.

Holiday Giving Opportunities in Des Moines: Freedom for Youth Ministries | Des Moines Moms BlogFreedom for Youth Ministries

Freedom for Youth Ministries, founded in Des Moines in 2003, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit on a mission to reach Iowa’s youth with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their role is to unite and empower Christian communities to reach young people from kindergarten through 22-years-old with programs that help them stay in school, learn life skills, prepare for the workplace, and develop healthy relationships. Freedom for Youth’s programs include tutoring, after-school activities, meals, job training, and residential services for post-high school students — all centered on the message of Jesus Christ’s saving grace.

How You Can Help

This Christmas, you can bless the youth in our community by adopting a “wish list”. Your donation will help provide materials needed to reach hundreds of youth not only during the holidays but also for the entire year. “We see over 450 K-12th grade students each week in our Freedom Centers across Iowa,” says Megan Kassmeier of Freedom’s Des Moines location. “Even just one donation would be a huge help!”

Holiday Giving Opportunities in Des Moines: Freedom for Youth Ministries | Des Moines Moms Blog

To view Freedom for Christ’s Christmas wish list for Des Moines as well as those for nearby Iowa communities of Huxley, Knoxville, Mitchellville, Perry, Stuart, and Winterset, or for more information on how you can get involved, visit the Christmas at Freedom page on their website.

Friendship Baptist Center

Friendship Baptist Center exists to build relationships in this poverty-impacted community by offering empowerment through education, development, and the transformative love of Christ for kids, youth, and adults. It has been around for nearly 35 years, and it has been a fixture in the MLK neighborhood of Des Moines for more than 20 years. Their ministries include community meals, food distribution, Bible studies, and conversational English and life skills classes, as well as youth group and an after-school kids club.

How You Can Help

Friendship Baptist Center is sustained financially through a number of local church partnerships as well as individual donors. If you would like to lend your support this Christmas season, the Center’s Mindy Jamison reports that their current (and ongoing) need is for diapers and shampoo. If you would like to make a donation or have other questions about how you can help, contact Mindy by phone at 515-244-1701 or by email at [email protected].

Merry Christmas! May your giving make someone else’s holiday happy and bright!


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