For many years we heard about, read about, and sought after a "signature ministry" for our church. A signature ministry is a ministry that helps identify a church, the work a church does that people think of when they think of the church, or which prompts them to think of the church when they think about the work. After years of searching, in 2015 God led us to what has become our signature ministry, Helmets of Hope.
In 2014-15, we collected basic hygiene supplies for homeless veterans which we donated to what was then the VA’s Homeless Veterans Outreach Center in Rock Island. That was a satisfying ministry, but following the second such collection, we caught a vision for an expanded ministry to the local homeless veteran population.
Consultations with the Outreach Center identified a need for essential household supplies for veterans who were transitioning out of homelessness and into housing of their own with the help of VA housing subsidies. In response, we birthed the ministry now called "Helmets of Hope," in which we provide essential household supplies to said veterans through partner agencies, currently, the VA's Community Resources and Referral Center(CRRC) and the Veterans Accessing Long-Term Opportunities and Resources program (VALOR) of the Humility of Mary Shelter, both located in Davenport, as well as the Salvation Army out of Peoria and Galesburg. We held the first Helmets fundraisers in August 2015, then delivered around 100 "move-in kits" - all 20 of the supply items we provide - in December of that year.
Since those first steps, Helmets of Hope has expanded to serve veterans in a 36 county area in Illinois (26 counties) and Iowa (10 counties). With our most recent service area expansion, we now reach the Illinois-Indiana border.
As of August 2019, we've made 85 supply deliveries to our partners, providing more than 18,000 supply items to nearly more than 450 veterans who moved off the streets. Since December 2015, we've averaged around two deliveries - about 400 items - per month.
Here are some images of Helmets of Hope in action:
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's been a long, difficult, challenging year for our community, nation, world, AND congregation, including our signature ministry, "Helmets of Hope." HOWEVER, there's light at the end of the proverbial tunnel!
We're currently in touch with our partner agencies, asking about their expected need for supplies - both household and food - in the coming months. To-date, one agency has responded with a substantial list of items, mostly in case-lot quantities that we'll soon be able to deliver because we recently placed one of our largest supply orders ever with our principal supplier, a shipment of nearly 1,900 items that we expect to receive by the end of this month.
While we've made deliveries since COVID arrived, our activity level has been greatly reduced (down 60% in 2020 compared to 2019). But there are signs that we're moving back toward a time of active support for veterans. Please pray for our ministry, and consider donating financially to support our efforts to provide essential supplies, including a welcoming food box, to vets escaping housing crisis.
After months of planning and fundraising, we made our first-ever household supply delivery on Saturday, December 5, 2015, to the VALOR program of the Humility of Mary Shelter in Davenport. That day several team members drove to the west end of the city to meet Cathy Jordan, then the VALOR program lead, and witness our provision of 200 essential supply for veterans who moved off the streets and into housing of their own with the help of VA housing grants.
Little did we know or would we have predicted that four years later we would have recently made our 90th such delivery - to one of four partner agencies or groups - that raised to more than 19,150 the total number of items we have provided to vets through Helmets of Hope.
We praise God for the last four years and for the doors that God opened to lead us to a ministry more satisfying than our prayers ever imagined.
Our first-ever quarter auction, held November 15, produced a final result of $2,637.75, FAR beyond our wildest dreams when we first decided to create one as part of the fundraising efforts of our Helmets of Hope ministry to veterans. That total includes money we raised selling pop and water, and also what we raised selling items created by the talented crafters of our Helmets ministry team.
Thanks to everyone who attended the event (we hope you won!) worked the event (we hope you've recovered!) and prayed for the event (we hope you won't stop praying for Helmets of Hope!)
Find out all you need to know about the next fundraiser for our ministry that provides essential household supplies to veterans moving off the streets and into housing of their own with VA support by clicking THIS LINK.
"Move-in kits" are the 20-item household supply collections our Helmets of Hope ministry provides - through our partner agencies - to veterans as they move off the streets and into housing of their own. The kits contain one of every cleaner, accessory, and paper- and laundry product we offer.
At the end of 2018, we praised God that we set an annual record by delivering 101 of the kits to our partners. Imagine our praise to God now that in the month of November we delivered the 125th move-in kit of 2019! We broke the full-year record in August, and continue to grow it in November! Watch this space for updates on the record's status.
Helmets of Hope makes a difference in the lives of veterans who are rebuilding their lives. Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn how you can help us make the difference.
On June 25, our Helmets of Hope ministry household supply ministry to veterans was the subject of an eight minute segment on Channel 4's "Living Local" broadcast, which highlights QC-area events, groups, and activities. We can't say much for the spokesperson we sent to represent us, but on the upside, every chance we get to deliver the Helmets story to the community is an opportunity to invite others to help us help vets.
If you didn't see the show, or want to see our segment again, CLICK HERE to view the YouTube video WHBF created and sent to us.
NOTE: And as an additional blessing today, it turned out that Ashlie Ledbetter, one of Noelle and Jim's daughters, appeared on the same "Living Local" broadcast, in support of Planet Fitness's current promotion that gives teens free entry to their fitness centers for the rest of the summer. If you want to watch Ashlie perform as she showcases various exercises, CLICK HERE to view her segment (she first appears at about the 4:00 mark in the video).
On June 1, the crafters among our Helmets of Hope ministry team anchored a site in a craft fair in Andover, Illinois. The $420 raised by the sale of their handmade items will help us purchase supplies for the veterans we serve. Here are some images captured at the event, which had a veterans theme, as you will note by the American flags (the alpacas in these images were stationed across a walkway from our site).
Because we receive no money from the FCCEM congregational budget, Helmets of Hope operates almost solely on money raised from fundraisers and donations from groups and individuals. In the first half of 2019, we're grateful to God to report, we received more money in donations than during any previous FULL YEAR in Helmets history, nearly $2,500! Additionally, we're witnessing the birth of a new crafting group in our church, one whose current mission focus is Helmets of Hope. Money raised from the group's craft shows will augment what we raise from other fundraisers.
But to expand the reach of our ministry, and to meet the increased requests for supplies we expect to receive from our Peoria partner as a result of our recent service area expansion, we ask for your support. You can provide that support in either of two ways:
- You can mail your tax-deductible donation to First Christian Church - 3501 7th St - East Moline, Illinois 61244. Make your check out to FCCEM, using the memo line to identify Helmets of Hope as the recipient of your donation.
- You can also support Helmets online by using our safe and secure online giving service tithe.ly You'll find a tutorial on how to make a donation through tithe.ly on our "Donate" page (link is in the navigation menu, or simply CLICK HERE) When you make an online donation, be sure to select Helmets of Hope as the target of your donation from the drop-down list of options found in the upper right corner of the tithe.ly donation box.
- All money donated to Helmets - whether by cash, check, bank transfer, or credit/debit card - benefits Helmets of Hope solely and exclusively. No other area of our ministry receives any part of the money donors direct to Helmets of Hope.
- If you don't need the tutorial about our online giving option, or simply want to check the process out for yourself, click this button...
Thank you for making your way through this page's introduction to FCCEM's signature ministry!