MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the Twin Cities, the Salvation Army houses 900 people every night. The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless estimates that every night, around 9,000 people in Minnesota experience homelessness. That struggle is all the more a cold reality on Christmas Eve.
The line outside the Marie Sandvik Center, a Christian outreach ministry in the Phillips neighborhood, stretched farther than a city block, where an estimated 800 people came for food, gifts and a church service.
Seventy years ago, the ministry was born and the dream of a Norwegian immigrant is still realized every Christmas Eve.
“Some of these people won’t have a tree or gifts when they go home. This might be the only Christmas that they have,” said Director Kristen Hink. “They are all in need of hope. Some of the guys and gals go to a homeless shelter tonight.”
“It’s sacred to me,” said Nancy Two-Hearts, who came with her family and learned she wasn’t alone.
“I feel very, very blessed that we are all here as a family and I am not the only one who feels this way as you can see,” she said, gesturing to the long lines around the building. “There are other people out there that are hurting and I just pray for everybody else.”
People left with armfuls of gifts and food baskets and smiles. For many on Christmas Eve, the center on the corner of East Franklin Avenue is a piece of heaven on earth.
“God’s angels. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are at,” said Arlene Thomas.
When it comes to people in need, the Twin Cities Salvation Army announced a near Christmas miracle.
It was almost $4 million short of its fundraising goal, but Friday the organization announced record donations in the past week, saying it now needs $1.2 million to reach a $9.5 million goal by Dec. 31.
WCCO-TV’s Lindsey Seavert Reports