“This is going to be the best Christmas ever,” the young mom said. “Thank you so much!”

She, her husband, and their two children were among the tornado survivors in Bowling Green, Kentucky, who were invited to a Christmas party hosted by Somebody Cares in partnership with Crisis Response International on Sunday, December 19. The event was held at a local Walmart, which donated their garden center for the day. Families were treated to free pizza while the kids could decorate cookies and make teddy bears from hand towels. CRI volunteers helped the families find gifts for their children. Thanks to a generous donation from Mercury One, each family was able to spend $100 per child. Families who needed additional help with food and other living expenses also received a Walmart gift card, donated by Resurrection Life Ministries in Picayune, Mississippi.

One dad who attended has been out of work so Christmas was already going be sparse this year, even before the tornado hit. He and his family expressed their deep appreciation for the assistance.

As the home of a refugee placement agency, Bowling Green hosts a large population of internationals. Guests on Sunday included families from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Myanmar, Nepal, and many other nations, alongside other families who were born and raised in the region.

One mother from Kuwait shared that her son is so traumatized from losing his best friend in the storm that he is withdrawn and doesn’t want to leave the hotel where they are staying. She also shared that she did not have space to keep $100 worth of toys for each of her three children in the tiny hotel room. Thanks to the gift card donation from Resurrection Life, we were able to give her gift cards for groceries and other necessities to make up the difference.

“What we noticed right away was that many of the children were traumatized,” said CRI’s Sean Malone, whose team had been serving families in the hardest hit neighborhood the previous week. “We just wanted to provide some normalcy for the children.”

“To see the smiles on the faces of the kids and their families is amazing,” Doug Stringer said. “But most of all, we want people to know the reason we celebrate this season. In the midst of such pain and despair, we need light in the world, we need hope in despair. We need Jesus to shine through His Church in a real and tangible way.”

Nearly 40 families attended the event, with 100 children going home with their favorite toys and gifts.

Thank you to CRI, Mercury One, Resurrection Life, Walmart, and each one of you who have supported our relief efforts. Thank you for caring!