Just about everywhere we go, “it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” The city streets are decorated, the malls are packed with shoppers, the sounds of Christmas can be heard on the radio and the old favorite holiday television programs are being watched by new generations sitting beside older generations.
Many area families are struggling, however, to provide a holiday meal and to be able to share a few presents for the children. Some are alone and looking to spend Christmas with others, even strangers, to help make the holidays complete.
There is an organization in Seminole County that is trying to make a difference. New Directions Community Outreach, Inc. (NDCO-Seminole) is a 501(c)3 non profit located in Casselberry, Florida. Their mission is to alleviate hunger and homelessness and to provide additional services to those that are in need.
Debra Thomas,CEO -Founder of the of NDCO-Seminole, said that she can relate to those that are in need. “I was homeless with an infant daughter with out a job, about 20 years ago,” Thomas explained. “My family took me in and I was able to get a job,” she continued. “After receiving the support I needed, I began paying it forward by helping others.” She started out by providing blankets to homeless people that were staying under the bridges in Orlando.
Thomas incorporated the organization as a non-profit in 2004 and is working on securing a permanent location so she can expand her services to the community.
She wants to be in a position where NDCO-Seminole can accept more donations and also be able to open up a food pantry to provide nourishment to those that are in need.
“We are looking forward to having a Saturday morning Farmer's Market, financial educational programs and tutoring programs for the community,” Thomas said.
On Christmas Day, Thomas will be serving dinner at Community United Methodist Church at 4921 S. US Highway 17-92 in Casselberry for anyone who would like to attend. She is hoping to have a Santa Claus and to be able to distribute presents for all the children.
Still, on Christmas Day, they need volunteers to help with the food preparation and corporate sponsors are still needed. Santa Claus has still not been able to secure his commitment, but they have high hopes. Anyone willing to help set up and clean the area afterwards would also be appreciated. The more that come to help will mean that the volunteers will be able to return to their families to spend the remainder of Christmas with.
But then, isn't that what Christmas is all about? Sharing, giving and spreading the Good News about the birth of Jesus Christ.
Volunteers and those able to help in any other way are encouraged to visit the NDCO-Seminole website at http:www.ndcoseminole.org to sign up and to receive further information or call (407) 900-1910.