Minneapolis nonprofit shares Christmas cheer with hundreds of people

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The ICCM Life Center kicked off its annual Christmas Eve outreach event to give people in need a place to spend the holidays with the community.

The event kicked off at 12 p.m. on Saturday and served hundreds of people, including children.

“It’s a nice, safe space for me and I enjoy it,” Raymond, a Christmas service attendee, said.

Raymond found his safe space at the ICCM Life Center’s Christmas Eve service last year.

Now, he’s a regular.

“It’s a blessing. From where I’ve been and where I’m trying to go now, it’s a wonderful thing,” Raymond said.

At the same time and place for the last 30 years, the Life Center in Minneapolis opened its doors to the public on Christmas Eve.

The community is greeted with a full holiday meal and live entertainment. Attendees leave with a Christmas gift and hope.

“It goes to show you there are caring people out here,” Raymond said.

The senior pastor said the Christmas service is a small part of their work that happens inside the church, but most of their outreach takes place on the streets of the city.

“Every day we go to the encampments. We go on the corner to go to the bus depots. We go on the trains,” Monica De Laurentiz, Life Center senior pastor, said.

The outreach center often serves people in need ranging from those living in homelessness to people battling addiction.

“I was homeless five years ago and this is the place where I came and they met me where I was at,” Jeff Powell, Life Center ministry member, said. “Since then, I got married and I graduated from college.”

Now, Powell is a part of the Life Center ministry.

Through events like this, he aims to give that same hope that changed his life.

“Some people want what we have, which is just the presence of care and love,” Powell said.

Raymond said knowing one person cares can make a world of a difference.

“The world is full of misfits. There are people out here who care. You just have to work to find them,” Raymond said.