So Long Summer…

Huge crowd. Awful fight. Just barely enough food. One man found his dinner in the trash – inadvertently thrown away – meant to be saved for a late comer. His face looked like he’d stumbled across hidden treasure. Another man – who came late – was turned away hungry… his meal discovered in the trash.

Nothing pleasant about the plight of urban poverty – except for the amazing reality that we can make a difference – it’s what Jackets for Jesus has been doing in the heart of Los Angeles since January 1, 1989.

You can help. You’re support is needed, now, more than ever. You’re Invited!

Next Time You Buy Fruit

We all love a deal and in summer the low prices on fresh fruit are the best. We rarely consider the life cost of the workers. Children raised in the fields, working around insecticides, growing up without school. And the toll it takes later on it life.

At 3 minutes and 50 seconds into this video meet Juan. A native Californian, born and raised working in the fields while we went to school. His English is kind of like my Spanish – not what it should be. 40 years old. Living on skidrow. Already on disability. Kids who work in the fields get their Social Security cards and start paying into the system not long after they can walk.

Juan didn’t “sneak across the border” he was just born into a different part of the American caste than you or I… the one we try to pretend doesn’t exist. Until fruit goes on sale in the summertime. And we wonder how they get it from the fields to the table so inexpensively. It’s guys like Juan.

Skidrow will be the only retirement plan many of them ever experience. It’s their part in the American Dream. Juan comes out to eat dinner, socialize a bit and he always wants his picture taken. I’m sure he’d love to tell his entire story, but I don’t speak his language. If you speak Spanish and are willing to listen – so many people are waiting in hopes that someone cares enough to take the time. That someone could be you. You’re Invited!

“They treat us like our lives don’t matter. But they do.”

When Money Gets Tight

“What’s left in the kitchen?”

Jodi came to pick up a check before shopping on Thursday. Knowing that the account was nearly empty, for the second time this summer I had to ask her: “What’s left in the kitchen?”

The day before I’d been going through food inventory with Pastor Aldo at Siempre and now, here in RIverside, trying to figure out how we could make it through the weekend on whatever we might have. Looking at Jodi I shook my head and said teasingly: “You need to start cooking a few bad meals. The crowds are just HUGE!”

Everybody loves Jodi’s cooking. She’s been faithfully preparing to serve a couple hundred meals each week for nearly 20 years. Incredible. But good as her food is – the crowds always get big in the summer. Heat forces folks out into the cool evenings and by 10pm, when we arrive, folks, many who haven’t eaten all day – are anxiously waiting.

It’s the plight of those living in urban poverty. It should do so much more than break our hearts – it should drive us to lovingly open our wallets and give, so that others can enjoy a home cooked meal together. We take so much for granted.

Adopt one meal this month – $200-
Claim the week of your birthday and make a donation.
Write a check for this year’s Christmas Party on the streets and the thousands of backpacks we need to buy.
Send $20- bucks to help us through this tough time.
Send $35,000- to buy us a new van – the old one needs to go.

You may never have the opportunity to serve even one night on the streets with us. Missing so very much… You may have worked with us in the past or supported the work in a way that changed lives – Thanks so very much. Not everyone will cook the meals, drive the van, serve on the streets… but all of us know how to give.

Serving the heart of our city since January 1, 1989. Faithfully taking jackets and meals from Central Community in Riverside to skidrow – every Sunday night for decades – you can count on us. We’re so confidant that you’d be pleased where every penny went that we gladly invite you to help us cook, pack and serve and see just how economically we get by – it’s nothing short of miraculous – totally loaves and fish. Not bragging – just completely amazed – even still, after all these years.

A Voice for the Poor

People ask me: “What are the homeless like?” and “How did they get that way?”

They’re just like you and me. Good days and bad. Each has their own unique story. When things went right for you – not so much for them… “there but for The Grace of God go you or I.”

Most of all they’re ignored. Even while we serve them on Sunday nights – cars stop at the light, stare, than turn away when they’re greeted with friendly waves. Ignored to the point of feeling invisible, isolated, abandoned.

Your gift, your part in Jackets for Jesus acknowledges their existence and in one small way we have the opportunity to show that we care. That they matter. That our fortune isn’t just the fruit of their misfortune. Our gifts honor our Creator Who invites us to share in the plight of the poor. They need us. We need you. Your support this week will be more encouragement than you can ever imagine.

Tomorrow night Jodi’s cooking whatever she can find in the kitchen. She’ll make something amazing – but it kills me. We can do so much better. Give, share, serve… why not come out this Sunday night? It’d be wonderful to see you. as always, You’re Invited!

for changing lives,

Eric M. Denton, pastor
Central Community

2012 Christmas Backpack Info

no more backpacksbackpack collageDecember 23rd, Sunday Night – YOU’RE INVITED!

Christmas Party on the streets with Jackets for Jesus!

UPDATE – Over 800 backpacks out and being filled.  Thanks to each of you filling them in love.  Over 100 have already been returned.  God is too good.  If you missed out…  Go buy some, fill them and join us!

The party on the streets is this Sunday night. You’re Invited!

You’re doing so much to make this an incredible Christmas on the streets for hundreds of people living in urban poverty.  Thank You!

Last year- 2011 -we had 1,200 people in line.  HUNDREDS went without a meal or a backpack.  That doesn’t have to happen this year – but success will require an insane level of generosity in the days to come.

If you’d like to donate to help us buy more backpacks – contact me today.

If you’ve already donated- thank you so very much.

Backpacks are no longer available for pickup at Central Community.  If you need backpacks – find a good discount house and buy some.

Suggestions For Filling Christmas Backpacks For The Homeless

Food Items:
Water bottle, Snacks (Raisins, nuts, candy, dried fruit, crackers), hot chocolate, cookies, gift certificates to McDonalds/Starbucks etc.
Clothing Items:
Jacket (even a good used one is fantastic), Sweatshirt, T-shirt, underwear, new white socks, jacket, rain poncho, warm hat, gloves.
Personal Care Items:
Toothbrush, toothpaste, mints, gum, lotion, soap, shampoo, wash cloth, hand towel, comb or brush, floss, toilet paper.
Miscellaneous Items:
Bible, stationary, stamps, Radio or MP3 player, books, magazines, watch, first aide kit, phone cards/calling cards, a Christmas card, etc.

Gift Cards have been highly requested this year.  Small amounts for fast food, Kinkos, Staples, etc…

Think of what you would like/want if you were homeless and living on the streets. Feel free to use your imagination!

Filled backpacks can be returned to Jackets For Jesus, at Central Community, no later than Sunday, December 23rd at 5:00PM.  Alternative drop off is our meeting pointMcDonald’s just off Peck Rd exit and the 60 fwy (1185 Durfee Ave., South El Monte, CA, google map at link)  – we’ll leave in a caravan from there to the streets at approximately 9:30pm.

Backpacks can be dropped off with us at the McDonalds between 9-9:30pm, even if you’re unable to join us on the streets.  All packs must be in the LARGE TRUCK before we leave McDonalds.

If you have extra jackets, etc… bring them with you to McDonald’s.

Thanks so much.  Looking forward to a fantastic evening together.

Merry Christmas!


so many dads…

March 1990 Jackets for Jesus Letter


This Post Covers 3 Pages – The 1990 Letter is in the next 2 Post

Father’s Day on the streets is always a challenge- so many dads… so many children… so very far from home.  We were a small group of workers last week with a HUGE amount of food.  Jodi and the team in the kitchen do such an amazing job of loving people with warm, delicious, nutritious food.  This week it was lasagna casserole, emmmm….

2 of this week’s workers: Amanda- one of our regulars and Thai- on her first trip to the streets both shared that they’re just 22 years old- maybe one was 21, the other 23, either way… 22.  Listening to them talk about their college degrees, their hopes and dreams, their music… couldn’t help but think that 22 years ago- in my mid 30’s –Jackets for Jesus had already been serving the heart of the city for over 2 years.

March 1990, when I wrote the letter I’m posting they hadn’t even been born- now they’re amazing, and I’m not exaggerating, amazing young adults with huge hearts and huge dreams giving of themselves in service.  I’m so very humbled to work alongside great people like this.

Violence was common in the early years of our work on skidrow.  Came across this letter in my desk today and thought I’d share this window into what it could be like in the middle of the night in a place we had yet to earn the trust of people fighting to stay alive.  Written in WordPerfect -well before Word- and printed on an old dot-matrix printer connected to an honest to goodness print-spooler… makes me feel old just remembering all that stuff!

The face of urban poverty has changed but the fact that it remains says an awful lot about us as a culture… as individuals… if you’ve grown frustrated with the pace of change in the world, why not start with yourself?  Jackets for Jesus is an incredible place to learn how to serve others, to break down the barriers that divide us as people and to give your life in love.  It worked for us last week.  It’s given me a healing point in the middle of places people want to turn away from for nearly my entire adult life.  I recommend it still.

You’re Invited!


This Post Covers 3 Pages – The 1990 Letter is in the next 2 Post

so many dads… part 2 (first page of letter)


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