A Time for Celebration

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Loneliness.  It is difficult anytime of the year, but at Christmas time it is especially challenging.  It is even more so for the residents of the Illinois Youth Detention Center in Warrenville Illinois, the only maximum security facility for female youth offenders in the state.  Separated from family and friends, isolation hits hard.

Volunteers Bring Cheer

On any given Saturday, most residents are confined to their cells usually working on homework or completing cleaning chores.  Those on good behavior can help out the staff by working in the kitchen, mowing the lawn in the summer or shoveling snow in the winter.  Like most routines, it is monotonous especially for teenagers who’d rather be hanging out with friends or at the mall.

That’s why it was a cause for celebration when, on Saturday December 18, a group of 11 volunteers from Willow Creek put on a Christmas party for the incarcerated girls.  For several hours, volunteers shared conversations, games and food.  Willow provided the pizza and the volunteers brought soda and chips.  One volunteer, who was also a teacher, gave a special bookmark to each girl handmade by her students.

Raising the Roof

Since the residents love to sing, especially the rich music of Christmas, the highlight of the day was worship   They use worship as an avenue to express their love of God, and also to feel closer to Him.  Singing helps melt away the roughness of their personal situations and allows God to comfort and nurture them.  The volunteers pray earnestly that their efforts will solidify a relationship with Christ the girls can take with them when they leave the facility.

Cookies and Hugs

When the celebration ended, each attendee was given a bag of cookies, packed by Willow’s Singles Ministry.  Volunteers also hugged them and wished them happiness for the holiday season.  A myriad of volunteers turned a couple of hours on a Saturday into a birthday party for the King, and the residents felt the blessings of all those individuals who made it happen, whether they were present or not.  The smiles on their faces, sincere words of gratitude and hugs were thanks enough.

Teams visit the Warrenville (women) and St. Charles (men) facilities on a regular basis.  If you’d like to join the team to share God’s love, please contact Ann at: arand@willowcreek.org

Category : Current Events, Local Outreach

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