From the HEART ministry plans Christmas dinner

·6 min read

Dec. 2—A local ministry that is used to feeding those in need or who are struggling with addiction is planning a special meal for Christmas.

From the HEART Ministry is inviting all those who might need a warm meal on Christmas Evening, no restrictions and questions asked.

The meal will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market at the Citizens National Bank Pavilion on East Mount Vernon Street in Somerset.

The group plans on having ham (and possibly turkey), rolls, stuffing, desserts, potatoes of some variety (whether it is white potatoes or sweet potatoes, the women hadn't decided yet, they joked), and other sides.

The group will also deliver meals to those who want, anywhere within Pulaski County. To schedule, call any of the three numbers they gave out: Angela Blankenship: 606-219-8561; Crystal Oyer: 606-875-9537; or April Slagle: 606-307-9952.

Those three, along with Kasi Grimm, Anita Wilson and Mischa Lester, are the soul of From the HEART, which stands for Helping Every Addict Recovering Today.

They started the ministry on July 13, 2020 after the ladies heard from a group of men who came to their church on Sunday evening to speak.

They were from the Lake Cumberland Recovery Program, and during their visit the women learned that only two of the men had bibles.

So, the women got together and asked themselves what it would take to get bibles into the hands of all of them.

"We decided our God was a really big God and we could put a whole bag together," Blankenship said. They created HEART bags that contain a Celebrate Recovery bible, a Celebrate Recovery 28-day devotional, a pen, highlighter, notebook, small wooden cross and a hand-written note card.

"We started out with a dream of 25 bags, and we just gave out our 1,500th bag," Blankenship said.

When the ministry started getting a lot of bag orders, they partnered with the SKYHope Recovery Center to have its residents write the note cards that went into the bags.

"They are able to put in those cards what they would have wanted to hear when they started their journey," Blankenship said, and Oyer added that those cards seemed to get to exactly the person who needed to hear what is written on them.

In August 2020, the women expanded the ministry to include serving a meal to those in need every Thursday on the Judicial Center Plaza. The first night they tried it, they served 35 meals. Now, they say they are serving 90 to 150 meals a week.

The ministry is there every Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the winter time, and from 7 p.m. to 9:30 in the summer months.

Those meals can be anything from chicken and dumplings to hot dogs.

"We bought a grill this past summer, and we were able to grill hamburgers and hot dogs right there with them," Blankenship said.

Those who ask for meals will be ministered to while they are waiting on their food, Grimm said.

"We show the love of Christ and minister to them, and a lot of the ones that we've been ministering to have actually went to treatment. They get jobs. they get homes. God restores their family. There's big things going on behind the scenes," Grimm said.

The bags, meals and other projects allow From the HEART to connect with people in the community that may be struggling with addiction.

If someone comes to them asking for help to find a recovery program, they work with their connections to find them a bed somewhere. It might not be within Pulaski County, they said, but they know enough program directors to be able to find a place somewhere in Kentucky.

It means a lot to the members of the ministry to help people, because many of them have been in the same position.

"A lot of us have been affected by addiction and alcoholism," Grimm said. "I don't know a single person today that hasn't had someone in their family, one of their neighbors or friends, or themselves that hasn't been torn apart.

"... I was in addiction for almost 20 years, and it was generational," Grimm continued. "Jesus broke that, and we get generational blessings. ... It takes God to stay clean and sober."

Grimm said she has been sober for two and a half years, while Blankenship said she has been sober for eight years.

Grimm added, "That's what helps to keep us humble. And it keeps us fighting, to be an advocate for those people, because we've been in that position."

Not only does their work help the people they minister to, it is also a major blessing to the women as well, Oyer pointed out. "I know they get their bellies full and they know somebody cares, but I think it's a bigger blessing for us."

They know they can't save everyone, Blankenship said. "It's not all good. They don't all end well, but sometimes they do and it's worth it just for that one."

Case in point: Blankenship told the story about a man who came to them one night while they were serving meals at the plaza. He told them it was his birthday, and without missing a beat, Slagle told him to stay right there.

Slagle ran down the street to Dairy Queen, intending to get him an ice cream cake, but when she found out they didn't have cakes at that particular restaurant, she asked for "the biggest blizzard you've got."

She brought that back to the man, and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to him.

A few months later, Blankenship said she was delivering bags to a recovery center, and around the corner came that same man. He had been sober for 30 days and was getting ready to graduate the program.

He told Blankenship that on the night of his birthday, he had been planning on killing himself. The women from the ministry had been the only people to wish him a happy birthday and seemed to be the only ones to care about making the day special.

Because of their act of kindness, he didn't follow through on that plan.

Blankenship was reminded of one of her favorite quotes when thinking of another incident. "We had a homeless person thank us for loving her people. April said that 'her people are our people now, too.'"

There are several ways of helping the ministry, if someone would like to donate.

They have a donation box located at Thee Ark Christian Bookstore, and they also sell their own shirts through their website, www.fromtheheartministry.com.

They will also accept donations to help with the upcoming Christmas dinner, they said.

From the HEART is a registered nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible.

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