By Libby Hopkins
Good Samaritan Mission of Wimauma has been helping those in need since 1984. The mission was started by William and Dorz Cruz with the intent of providing food, clothing and church services to the migrant community.
In 2008 the Cruz’s retired and their son, William Jr., and his wife, Theresa, took over the church. “I wanted to shift from ‘giving them fish’ into ‘teaching them to fish,’ so to speak,” William said. The board of directors at the church was open to his ministry and from that point on the mission has been growing and reaching more into its surrounding communities.
Another change William Jr. made to his church was how they celebrated Christmas. “For years, we collected toys and then allowed the children to pick their own gifts,” William Jr. said. “We noticed that the parents were typically kept out of the loop and the child may have received something the parent may not have wanted them to have.”
He believed the parents were thankful for their child’s gift but sad about not being able to give them the present themselves. “Last year we started placing all the toys in the main chapel and invited the parents to go in and choose what they wanted to give them, while the children waited outside,” William Jr. said. “The toys would be placed in a large black bag along with wrapping paper, so this way the parent could wrap the present at home and surprise their child on Christmas morning with a present they chose.”
The church will hold its Christmas Blessings Outreach on Saturday, December 21 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Parents can register to receive gifts for their child from December 2-4. The church is still looking for donations of toys, gift cards, small electronics and gift wrapping supplies for the outreach.
William Jr. hopes the church’s Christmas outreach will help those in need during the holidays and get them more involved with the many wonderful programs his church offers.
“Our hope is that God will allow us to continue to minister and grow,” he said. “Our community needs us now more than ever and with God’s help, we will be there for them.” To learn more about the services offered at Good Samaritan Mission or to volunteer with its Christmas Blessings Outreach, visit www.gsmission.org or contact Reverend Cruz at 634-7136.