The meaning of Christmas to the homeless

Published: Dec. 26, 2012 at 1:13 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2012 at 1:13 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Christmas, it's a day to spend with family and open presents. However, the meaning of family is not the same for everyone. For some, family goes beyond the ties of blood.

There are hundreds of people around the nation who are homeless this Christmas season, but for a handful of families being homeless has a different meaning.

There's a tree, there are presents and there's even food. This Christmas Eve, First Fruit Ministries hosted a Christmas Eve lunch and gave presents to everyone currently living with them and those who have already completed their program.

First Fruit Ministries in Wilmington takes in homeless men, women and families who need rehabilitation. It teaches them about God, gives them a roof over their heads, and sends them back to school.

"I realize that some of the strongest ties you can have are between people that you've worked alongside and also the people that you've sown into and they've taught you more than you could have ever taught them," said Lee Anna Stoker with First Fruit Ministries. "It becomes a bond that can be even stronger than the blood ties that you have."

Tamieka Williams joined First Fruit Ministries a couple of years ago. For her, Christmas is about hope, happiness and her kids.

"I'm planning on going back to school," said Williams. "I want to be a social worker so I need to go back to school and finish that. I'm just in a happier place with my kids now."

Williams has been on her own for a while now, but for Christmas, everyone is invited back to First Fruit Ministries.

"It makes me feel good because I know they still care," said Williams. "Even though I'm not at First Fruit anymore, they still care about what you're doing, how you're doing, making sure you stay on the right path."

Donna See has been with the ministry for 2 years. The ministry took her out of a domestic violence situation and helped her shape her future.

"The encouragement, the support, the love and the understanding just gave me a sense of belonging and sense of responsibility," said See.
See is graduating from college in May and just got a place of her own.

"This morning when I saw my kids open up presents where they're to end up living soon at my place," said See. "It's something that I can call my own, something that I'm doing on my own."

Williams and See want to be examples for other women.

"I never imagined my life like this at all," said See. "I never would have imagined having my son with me, my daughter, and having a family and being able to support them on my own."

"You can't stop when times get hard, you have to keep going," said Williams. "I know I cant stop, I have to keep going."

All of the presents were donated. Everyone received multiple gifts for each member of their family.

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