On Thursday, many of us will sit down to a massive Thanksgiving meal with family and friends. On Friday, many of us will head out to the stores to do our holiday shopping, spending (and perhaps overspending) on gifts for ourselves and the people we love. And some of us who love music will probably be headed over to Horizon Records on the corner of Stone Avenue and Main Street for its annual Black Friday sale, where hundreds of special-edition albums await us.
But while people are digging through the bins at Horizon, there will be another kind of gift-giving going on around the corner at the Triune Mercy Center. Triune is a nondenominational church that actively works to help the homeless, not only doing relief work like providing a food pantry, hot meals, and laundry services, but also trying to get people out of the cycle of homelessness.
Deb Richardson-Moore has served as both pastor and director at Triune for 13 years, and she says that breaking the cycle is far more important than providing creature comforts.
“We do some basic relief work, but we’re trying to get people out of their situation,” she says. “We have two rehab folks who have gotten over 1,300 people into rehab treatment; we have two social workers, three attorneys, and all sorts of help and different programs to help people get out of homelessness.”
Over on Stone Avenue, Horizon Records owner Gene Berger noticed what Triune was doing, and about three years ago he came up with an idea to help them. He took stock of the store’s supply of the items that record companies often send out to promote their new releases and reissues, and came up with a concept called Swag Saturday.
In essence, people are encouraged to bring canned goods, blankets, winter coats, gloves and hats, and most importantly, financial donations for the Triune Mercy Center into Horizon on Saturday, Nov. 24. In exchange, you can pore through the various freebies (or “swag”) that Horizon has left over from giveaways and promotions.
Berger has long admired Richardson-Moore and Triune because of their comprehensive approach to homelessness and the issues that cause it.
“I love what Triune is doing,” he says. “They aren’t talking about things that would be great to do, they’re doing things that are so important. Deb offers such a variety of services and help to people of all types: 12-step meetings, classes, right down to food and warmth.”
The first two years of the Swag Saturday event were quite rewarding for Triune and Horizon, with several truckloads of donations and thousands of dollars going directly to the Mercy Center at the end of the day.
“What means the most to me about it is that Horizon is a neighbor,” Richardson-Moore says. “They can see what we’re doing every day and they want to support us.”
And in case you were wondering what to give, Richardson-Moore does not mince words when she talks about what the most important thing is for Triune’s continued outreach.
“Money is No. 1,” she says. “No. 2 is food because we do a food pantry every week, and No. 3, they’re collecting coats and blankets because there are a lot of folks we’re working with out there, and sometimes it takes a while.”
For Berger, Swag Saturday is a dose of kindness after the consumer-driven madness of Black Friday.
“I can enjoy what Horizon has been able to do,” he says. “I have a nice house, and I’ll have a nice meal on Thanksgiving. I won’t be sleeping under a bridge. I feel deeply for people whose plight is addiction, alcoholism, mental health issues, hard times, or whatever else. I want this to be about how we can help.”
If you go
What: Swag Saturday
Where: Horizon Records
When: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 24