The spirit of giving moves volunteers at Love In the Name of Christ all year long.
This holiday season, Love In the Name of Christ, or Love INC, is looking to continue its support of those in need through its holiday services. The nonprofit organization has an assortment of offerings they intend to employ to help individuals and families in the Tinley Park area.
Love INC reaches out to people in the community annually with coats, Thanksgiving baskets, Adopt-A-Family Christmas gifts and Christmas Miracle projects.
The spirit of giving is not only demonstrated by the organization during the holiday season, but also year-round through food and personal care pantries, fresh start kits, beds and blessings, and gasoline vouchers.
“The biggest thing is our focus is not just through the holidays,” said Kim Sullivan, executive director of Love INC of Tinley Park. “Our vision is to bring people closer to God, drawing them together through relationships. The phrase we use is ‘relational revival.’ It’s not even monetary gifts, it’s our time and it’s our precious commodity to offer friendships and a relationship with people. We train ourselves to refer to others as neighbors in need, instead of clients.”
This year, Love INC aims to support about 20 families through its Adopt-A-Family Christmas gifts project.
“We want them to have the dignity and excitement as though they provided their own gifts for their children,” Sullivan said.
The focus of the Christmas Miracle projects this time around will involve supporting an area woman with apartment furnishings like they did for Yvette Walker last year.
“After my husband died, I lost my apartment,” said Walker, a recipient of a 2016 Christmas Miracle project. “I put my stuff in storage; I lost that. I stayed at a friend’s house in one of her rooms on an air mattress. When I joined Family Harvest [Church,] I didn’t have a job, no transportation. I was relying on her to pick me up and take me to the church, and it was just one of those processes where I learned to stand with my faith and say, ‘ OK, God, I know you will not allow me to get put out.’”
That’s when Walker was connected with the services of Love INC of Tinley Park and its partner churches. Around that time, she went on to find employment as a secretary at a church.
“They helped me with the furniture I needed,” she said. “[I] got a kitchenette set, pots and pans, two dressers, lounge chairs, [and a] microwave, and everything matched my color scheme.”
Walker said Love INC has kept in contact to make sure she was okay and asked her if she needed anything, which was refreshing to see.
“Everything has fallen into place for me,” she said.
Love INC will also be working to raise $50,000 to open up a building for the operations of Love INC.
“We believe that as we’re giving to others, we’ll be able to find a space to support volunteers, but we want to make sure we take care of our neighbors in need first,” Sullivan said.
The most defining service Love INC of Tinley Park has is its class offerings, Sullivan said. The organization helps provide instruction on parenting, marriage, budgeting, jobs, how to achieve goals and dreams, and slow cooker meals.
“Love INC is different than other organizations,” Sullivan said. “We don’t confine our services to what our regular services are. Let’s say a single mom has a leaky faucet, and she cannot find a way to get it fixed. She would send out an email [to us], and we match their request with an opportunity to have that need met.”
The value of the organization rings true for many. Sullivan said nowadays, it’s important that organizations like Love INC are able to show that there is genuine compassion and help available to those in need.
“There’s a lot of division in the world,” she said. “In our division, there are misunderstandings about who people are—Christians included. We want to make sure we show the love of Christ to people.”
Sullivan stressed that if Love INC’s support leads an individual or a family to consider joining one of its partner churches, that’s great, but the organization leaves that decision in the hands of the client and God.
Love INC is part of an international movement that intends to improve upon the effectiveness of the work churches strive to do. Sullivan stressed that because the organization’s work focuses on relationships, it takes more time to carry out its mission: to support those in need.
“We’re doing our part,” she said. “Whatever happens is in their heart.”