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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Christmas miracle

Bismarck, N.D., businessman gets the ball rolling for the homeless

In Bismarck, N.D., businessman Dwight Hegel is calling this story “A Christmas Miracle.” Hegel runs a family business, Superior Silk Screen Inc., but he also runs with the miracle ball.

A year ago his wife, Kim, and their foster daughter, Vedrana, 12, heard Nathan C. Keith, a pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Bismarck, preach on the Beatitudes. Keith told about a young member who visited with a homeless person on the steps of a church their youth group had stayed at that summer. After the sermon, Vedrana asked her mother, “Why are people homeless?”

The Hegels wanted more than a discussion, so they decided to find a homeless girl about Vedrana’s age to sponsor for Christmas. Carrie Grosz, the Bismarck Public School homeless coordinator, told them that on any given day there are 50 to 60 homeless children and youth in the town. “I had no clue,” Hegel admitted, saying he was sure others—including Trinity’s men’s group—were just as clueless.

Hegel sent e-mails to friends and family, and the NewMen Group adopted it as its Christmas project. Several thousand dollars later, 24 adults and children shopped and wrapped winter coats, food coupons, school supplies, personal hygiene products, pots and pans, blankets, games and toys, and other items.

This year the project is growing: Hegel’s goal is $10,000 and there are two new church groups that started as a result of last year’s Christmas miracle. “Carrie’s Kids” offers immediate and ongoing help to local homeless families. The NewMen Group also established a “NewKids Club” in which they take the kids out for activities.

And having a T-shirt guy at the helm hasn’t hurt. “Other children are wearing their [NewKids Club] shirts to school and being asked, ‘How do I join the club?’ ” Hegel said.


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