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:
"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 a record by delivering 101 of the kits to our partners. Imagine our praise to God now that in the month of August we delivered the 105th move-in kit of 2019! We've broken the full-year record with four months left in the year! If those remaining months bring us the move-in kit requests we've received during them from our partners in the past, we could well add another 35-40 kits to that record total.
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).
So that we could offer online giving, recently our church changed web hosts, the company that makes sure our website is actually on the Internet. The change of web hosts has blessed us in many ways, but it has also compelled us to make some changes that affect our online guests. Previously, for example, the web address you'd use to visit the Helmets of Hope section of our church's website was www.fccem.org/hoh. Since our change of web hosts, that web address is a bit longer:
Please make note of the change.
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!