Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Celebrating the holidays with Thanksgiving giving


Exodus House family members gather around a table at OKC-Wesley to enjoy a homemade Thanksgiving feast. After the meal, Exodus House residents selected Christmas decorations for their apartments.
By Tabitha Beckman

Oklahoma City

In the fellowship hall at OKC-Wesley, a large group of current and former residents of Exodus House and their families gathered for a Thanksgiving meal.

Exodus House is residential re-entry program for people coming out of incarceration operated by Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries. CJAMM operates the temporary housing program in Oklahoma City and in Tulsa.

Members of OKC-Wesley and Exodus House sponsors provided the food, set out the meal, and donated Christmas decorations for the residents to take home. After the meal, residents and their families will choose which decorations they want to decorate their apartments for Christmas; every resident gets a Christmas tree.

Robin Wertz, the Oklahoma City site director for Exodus House, says it all started when a program graduate set up a Christmas gathering for the residents. Over time, a celebration for Thanksgiving was added, and the gathering moved to OKC-Wesley to better accommodate everyone.

“At Exodus house we have 18 people in a little room, so that wasn’t working for us,” Wertz said. “Wesley has always been so gracious.”

Epworth Villa

The residents of Epworth Villa, a continuing care retirement community in Oklahoma City, have a strong commitment to giving back to their community.

Each year the Sunday School Class at Epworth Villa continues a tradition of donating the overage of funds from their account to local organizations. This year, the class decided to donate $3,000 in $1,000 increments to three local nonprofits:

Alzheimer’s Association (Oklahoma Chapter) to continue their work on the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease;

Circle of Care—to continue providing resources for children in foster care;

Skyline Urban Ministries—to continue impacting lives, restoring dignity, and empowering those in need.


Every year Lawton-Centenary’s United Methodist Men collect items for holiday baskets. They put out boxes around the church to collect food items from the congregation, and the UMM donates the turkeys. They put together 50 boxes for Thanksgiving and 50 for Christmas, delivering them to people in the community, including families from the local elementary school where church members help with tutoring.


On the day before Thanksgiving, dozens of community volunteers joined together at Restore Hope Ministries in Tulsa to prepare and distribute over 668 Thanksgiving baskets to families in crisis. Volunteers of all ages and from diverse backgrounds come together and stood shoulder-to-shoulder to pack the baskets and place them in the hands of their neighbors in need.

“Many of the families we help are hardworking, low to middle income families who are getting by, but just need a little extra help when unexpected events or expenses arise,” said Executive Director Jeff Jaynes. “We are here to give them a hand up when they’ve fallen on hard times, to restore hope that a better day is possible.”

Thanks to the generosity of Tulsa community sponsors, Restore Hope Ministries has provided Thanksgiving baskets to families in crisis for almost 30 years. The 21-ingredient baskets include a turkey and all the trimmings, from fresh produce to dessert.

Ponca City

Ponca City-First’s M&M kids delivered 947 pounds of food to the Northern Emergency Resource Agency (NERA), a food and resource center in Ponca City.

NERA helps those in need with food, utilities and rent assistance, informational classes, and referrals to other agencies or providers in north-central Oklahoma. The agency’s service footprint extends east-to-west from Grainola to I35 and from north-to-south from the Kansas state line to Red Rock.


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