MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Holiday shopping is underway for many families. While it’s a joyous time of year, it can be a difficult time for disadvantaged children.
That’s where Betty Houston’s ministry, Families in Service to Him is stepping in. Its mission is to ensure children in Mobile County have gifts to open on Christmas morning.
Houston’s passion is giving back to the community and making a difference. That passion is what motivated her to create her ministry.
FISH was founded six years ago. About two years in, Houston decided she wanted to make gift stockings for all the homeless children within Mobile County Public Schools.
“The reason I do this is because I know what it feels like to go back to school, and this little girl who has everything, she asks you what you got and you say ‘I didn’t get anything,’” said Houston.
When Houston started this service, she didn’t know just how many stockings she’d have to make to serve students in need.
“Four thousand,” said Houston. “I almost went into shock because I knew I couldn’t do it by myself so I got other people to help me.”
Some of those helping hands are students at the Alabama School of Math and Science. They work with FISH to put together the stockings before they’re delivered to the school board on Nov. 29.
“Being able to participate in service is such an amazing experience. Being able to see the effect that these have on other children, especially around the holidays, it’s really impactful,” said Lex Mroczko, Vice President of the school’s Key Club.
There are many ways to give back through FISH. Houston’s daughter, Tessa Brown, told us the four “S’s” of how anyone can get involved.
“You can shop, you can stuff, you could sew, or you can help ship,” said Brown.
If those options don’t work, you can always help by donating.
“They can donate their time, their efforts, they can purchase things,” said Valenia Green, Executive Director of Azalea City CDC.
The FISH organization is looking for donations of all kinds. Small toys, coloring books, school supplies, clothes, and hygiene items are also accepted items. Donations can be dropped off at Azalea City CDC and Semmes First Baptist Church.
Whether you give or not, Houston asks for one thing.
“Remember the real reason we have Christmas. It’s not the turkey, it’s not the dressing, it’s not the tree, it’s not the angel on the tree, it’s not the ornaments, it’s not the Christmas songs. It’s about the birth of Christ. He’s the reason we have that season.”