LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – Hiway 80 Rescue Mission continues to provide solace and hope in the face of abuse, addiction or financial problems. This December, they are working towards helping as many women and children as they can to help make Christmas wishes come true.

“We have 800 children between Longview and Tyler that we are going to be giving presents to. They aren’t staying here, they are just community kids that are in need,” said Executive Director, Brian Livingston.

The organization has an Ornament of Hope tree where volunteers can pick up a child’s Christmas list. Thankfully, many East Texans have been eager to help.

“We are here in the Office of the Women’s and Family Shelter and this is our ornament tree! So, it’s empty now because all ornaments have been taken which is a good thing,” said Livingston.

They will also be hosting Christmas take-out meals at both Hiway 80 locations in Longview and Tyler. Though, the fun holiday traditions do not stop there.

“Several churches and volunteer groups will come in and do parties for children and there’s almost always a pajama party somewhere in December where the kids dress in their PJs and watch the Polar Express and drink hot chocolate,” said Livingston.

The impact of providing such a supportive environment for women and children has been extraordinary. For a survivor, Annette Williams and her 2-year-old grandson, they are overwhelmed with gratitude.

“Hiway 80… Oh my God, when I got here, I felt so welcomed. You know, the staff was excellent. So yeah, it’s been a pleasure and still is a pleasure for me to be here. So much love and help,” said Williams.

Originally from Louisiana, Williams shares that she was displaced due to Hurricane Ida and pursued a fresh start here in East Texas.

“They support everything here for us. Your kids, they always have something for the kids, they give them clothes. We even get our hair cut for free! The shelter does all of that. Food, we get 3 meals a day which is a blessing,” said Williams.

With the help of Hiway 80, Williams hopes to secure a job as a cook and start a new life with her grandson. Eventually, Williams plans to pay it forward, by returning to the shelter and becoming a volunteer herself, giving back to the selfless organization that once rescued her.

“I hope to come back one day and be of service and let them know what I went through here when I leave,” said Williams.

After the pandemic last year, this Christmas is truly a special one for Hiway 80 Rescue Mission. The staff and sisters are grateful to be enjoying the holiday traditions together again.