Bryan “Hollywood” Hayden claimed his usual spot at the front of a long line of volunteers set to deliver Christmas presents Friday morning.
This year marked his 30th time participating in Kokomo Rescue Mission’s Red Ribbon Christmas, which provided gifts and food to 1,069 families in need this year. The experience never gets old, Hayden said.
“Every year I do this, there’s at least one house, one person, one story that really stands out,” he said. “It makes me so grateful for what I have. When I met Kristina, (his wife of eight years), I wanted her to see why this is so important to me. When we started having kids, we decided we wanted our children to participate so they would grow up knowing how blessed we are and that Christmas isn’t just about what you get; it’s about God’s great gift in Jesus … and sharing love.”
With their 3-year-old son and nearly six-month-old daughter in tow, Hollywood and Kristina woke up at 3 a.m. Friday to make the trip from their home near Fort Wayne to Kokomo. Hundreds of volunteers joined them at the GM Components Holdings warehouse to load up Christmas gifts for 2,587 children and their families. Almost 60 of those families had been affected by the tornado and received special gift boxes.
“I love it,” said Anna Brown, Red Ribbon coordinator. “I’m chaotically busy, but I love seeing all the drivers. They’re so eager to get the boxes and go out and help. It’s amazing. We could not do this without the volunteers.”
In the past year, volunteers have donated 30,372 hours to the Kokomo Rescue Mission. Hollywood grew up attending Community Bible Church in Kokomo, which is how he first got involved in the Red Ribbon outreach as a teenager.