- Willow Creek Care Center provided Christmas prison packs to inmates in Illinois
- The idea was born after Pastor Bill Hybels read “when you were in prison you came to visit me” from the Gospel of Matthew 25 in 2013
- In 2013, the Willow Creek Care Center provided Christmas prison packs to 20,000 inmates, 32,000 in 2014 and 70,000 in 2015
For the last three years, the Willow Creek Care Center provided Christmas prison packs to inmates in Illinois after Pastor Bill Hybels read “when you were in prison you came to visit me” from the Gospel of Matthew 25 in 2013.
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Immediately, Pastor Bill said “I don't know if we're doing this as a church" and focused on that verse the idea for a program to bring Christmas presents to every inmate housed in an Illinois prison was born.
Using the connections the church had already made with the Illinois Department of Corrections through their prison and jail ministry program, they tested their new plan out in 2013. The following year, they set out to provide a pack to every single person in an Illinois prison.
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In 2013, the Willow Creek Care Center provided Christmas prison packs to 20,000 inmates, 32,000 in 2014 and 70,000 in 2015.
Heather Larson, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church said: "A group of volunteers from our church have been faithfully serving in prisons across Illinois for decades, and in recent years as our senior pastors and staff have gotten involved, the passion grew to include our entire church in the efforts.”
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On Willow Creek's Facebook page, they shared the story of Brandon, a former inmate and recipient of one of the church's prison packs. His story shows how something so small - each box costs just around $5 - can do so much to bring hope to the hopeless.
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Willow Creek, located in South Barrington, Illinois, is one of the country's largest churches, averaging more than 20,000 attendees per week. As the holiday season rolls around, parishioners line up to help pack presents — which include popcorn, honey buns, Christmas cards, puzzle books, calendars, journals, and Bible studies.
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