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Christmas comes in July for the homeless

Malika A. Wright | 8/7/2013, 11:36 a.m.

— On July 25, the Miami Rescue Mission/Broward Outreach Centers helped over 2,600 homeless men, women and children celebrate Christmas in July with 500 volunteers at their three campuses in Miami, Hollywood and Pompano Beach.

At the event, more than 500 new sneakers, hundreds of haircuts, articles of clothing and tote bags filled with hygiene products were given out, and 86 men and women signed up at the company’s intake tables to get off the streets of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.help give out the shoes and special treats. One of the biggest gifts given that day was a home. Several homeless people who signed up to live at the rescue mission were admitted that day.

Anthony Alexander, 35, was welcomed on Christmas in July, and has enjoyed his time there so far.

"In this short amount of time that I've been here. It's shown me a lot," he said.

Although Alexander never lived on the streets and could have went to live with another friend or family member instead of going to the center, he decided to go because he felt God telling him to do so.

Later, he discovered that it was exactly what he needed to overcome his cocaine and alcohol addiction.

“When I found out about this place, I was overwhelmed with joy because they were going to give me all three of the things I was looking for: God, schooling and getting off drugs,” he said. Alexander said he has learned that he was a “functioning addict,” meaning that although he was able to work and support his habit, he still had a drug and alcohol problem. Before coming to the rescue mission, he said, all he cared about was partying and hanging out with friends. But now he is more focused on his goals to get his GED and receive a certificate to work on air conditioners and refrigerators.

He said he enjoys learning more about God, during the Bible studies held five times a day, for residents, and he believes the Lord will keep him motivated.

“I was here before and didn't finish the program,” Alphonso Smith, 52, said. “I guess God doesn't start anything that he can't finish.”

He was in the program back in 2007. He stayed clean of crack-cocaine for a few years. But after feeling stressed and pressured, he left the program and started using crack again.

He said the feeling of pressure, also caused him to walk out on his family. But recently, he decided to get himself together, in hopes that one day he can return to his family. Smith said he would like the program to help him with his education and also to help him gain experience with computers.

"[Christmas in July] opened my eyes again to the Lord. Now that I walk with the Lord, I see a little clearer and I'm a little freer,” he said. Another new resident Kenneth Huneycutt, 50, said he also enjoys talking about God.

“I think everybody should have to go through a church service like this three times a day,” he said. “It keeps your mind occupied on what needs to be done and not on trash that doesn't matter. This is stuff matters because if you don't have the Lord in your life you ain't got nothing.” He didn’t have a drug addiction but he was formerly homeless. He explained that he became homeless after his boyfriend died.

In addition to helping him get closer to God, the program has also helped him receive medications. He is HIV positive.

He said his goal is to keep taking his medications, get his back on his feet, and help somebody else in need.

“I'm still learning and trying to do the right thing,” he said.