Driving Smiles With Hope For The City

Masters of Barricades finds something magical with Central Church. 

Mike Bodine may not remember the car, but he’ll never forget their faces. There were three children, ages 4-9, all crowded around the back seat window, faces bright with anticipation. They had no idea what to expect from the CEO of Hope for the City. 

Like many of the families that evening, they had already stopped at several of the drive-up stations, each station decorated with dazzling arrays of lights and holiday themes, all of them magical. At one stop, a complete holiday meal was gently placed in the back of an open trunk. At another, the family received winter coats or school supplies. At yet another, the impossible was made possible as snow dusted their car with the miracle of Christmas. 

“We wanted our volunteers at each and every station to engage the family from the safety of their vehicle and enjoy a moment that transported them away from all their real-life worries,” says Bodine. “Our idea was to make this experience as fun and immersive as possible — something unique to the work we’ve been doing all year for the families who need it the most.” 

Mission accomplished. Several hundred cars meandered through a drive-thru winter wonderland that had been mapped out in the parking lot of Central Church, located at 1001 New Beginnings Dr. in Henderson, on Nov. 23. Attractions included holiday treats, a light show, carnival games, family pictures, and Santa meet-ups interwoven with an opportunity to pick up necessities like warm winter clothing, hygiene kits, groceries, toys, and some take-home Christmas decor. 

Even more incredible, the 300 to 400 volunteers and dozens of business partners that made this possible are hoping to duplicate it on an even grander scale on Friday, Dec. 18. Families in need and those with at-risk children are encouraged to register for the event. Hope for the City intends to provide the experience to as many families as possible. 

“With the support of our community, we’re really to serve as many children and their families as possible — the true spirit of Christmas for as many as 50,000 children in the greater Las Vegas area,” Bodine said. “As long as we can fulfill our promise, we’ll hold off on a waiting list for our Holiday Edition.” 

As part of its ongoing effort to help the community, Hope for the City produced a 90-minute television broadcast hosted by Chris Harrison, from ABC's hit reality franchise The Bachelor, and featuring singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett. The show premiered on KTNV at 9 p.m. on Dec. 7. It will encore on The CW Las Vegas at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12. The program blends community giving with the spirit of the season, uplifting entertainment and inspiring stories that introduce viewers to the people they help. 

“We’re hoping that the program and the news coverage inspire more people and business partners to lend their support to this growing effort — making this holiday experience a permanent part of our community’s heritage,” says Bodine. “Based on the response so far, I can see this being embraced by our community, supported by every major corporation, and organized at a larger venue that could accommodate even more drive-thru booths with even more magical and heartwarming moments that these children will never forget.” 

According to Bodine, the timing couldn’t be better. As the pandemic stretches into its ninth month, more and more at-risk children struggle with some form of depression. These are children who cannot attend school, and many do not have the technology needed to attend online classes. Many don’t have clean socks or warm clothes, soap or toothpaste, paper or pencils, vitamins or food. Time and time again, benefiting families tell Hope for the City volunteers that they have saved Christmas.

Hope For The City car

“The experience is like nothing I’ve ever seen, akin to giving someone their first glass of water after barely surviving months of isolation in the desert,” he said. “It took us by surprise how badly something like this was needed, even though we’ve seen it five days a week for months as people pull up to the drive-thru food pantries we host.” 

To illustrate how much area need has grown, Bodine says Hope for the City pickups and deliveries have grown from 800,000 pounds of food last year to more than 9 million pounds of food this year. And although the number of families lining up started to abate in August, new mandates and restrictions have created another resurgence. Visit Hope for the City for a current pantry schedule throughout the Valley. This nonprofit organization also provides a delivery program for elderly and immuno-compromised residents in the Las Vegas area. 

For its part, Masters of Barricades (MOB) is proud to support Hope for the City by donating traffic control equipment (42” delineators, variable message boards, and a pedestrian rail) for the ongoing food panties and the holiday events. MOB is also a business partner with Central Church, having provided services and rentals at cost, below cost, or dramatically reduced rates depending on the events. 

To join MOB and the growing list of area businesses that support Hope for the City and Hope for the City: Holiday Edition, please visit their business partner page at Hope for the City. If you are interested in making an individual donation, visit the donation page at Hope for the City or call/text 855-922-2711 to pledge your support. Together, we can make a difference.

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