Move over, Santa and park the sleigh. A box truck and some Lowe's employees got the job done for you. At The Restoration Life Center (RLC) in Neosho last week, it wasn't the old elf who delivered holiday gifts, first a complete renovation and restoration of the facility and then enough food to start the New Year with a full pantry - it was the employees of Lowe's in Neosho.

Best known as a home improvement store, Lowe's in Neosho took on a different role in order to give back to the community. Housed in a former church building, The Restoration Life Center on North High Street in Neosho has undergone a few changes over the years but the facilities were long overdue for an upgrade. That's where Lowe's entered the picture.

Lowe's, Neosho, donated materials and labor to provide the RLC with much needed upgrades to the kitchen, dining room, and laundry room. The renovations included new cabinets, new walls and ceilings. Their efforts took just two days and included everything from demolition to decoration. The finished space offers a more pleasant dining experience.

"It's warm and inviting," Monte Vlasin, Lowe's Operation Manager in Neosho said. "Once we get the new counter tops installed, it will be completely different."

But the giving didn't end with appliance upgrades and renovation. Lowe's also held an in-house food drive and made it competitive fun with two teams.

"We wanted to do something to give back to the community," Dara Gibson, Lowe's Administration Department, said. "We were doing a restoration here and thought a food drive would be really nice to do in the store. We split the store into two different teams and our employees, our management, our installers and even some customers brought in food. It wasn't just Lowe's - it was a community effort. We were able to collect over 2500 items to donate. We're really happy with that."

Four huge appliance size boxes were delivered, each one filled to the brim.

Items donated included a variety of canned goods, soups, side dishes and cereal.

"We would have also brought some ground beef and chicken," Gibson said. "But when we called, they told us that the freezers are full."

As Lowe's employees and volunteers carried in the donated food, every table in the dining room was covered and items had to be placed on chairs as well. Later in the day, staff at the RLC were able to place the items in the pantry, which is now full.

Since feeding people is just one of the ways the RLC ministers, the gift is a Christmas blessing, one that will take them into the New Year.

In the first 17 days of December, the RLC served 370 meals, provided shelter to 27 adults and 6 children and assisted 4 adults in leaving the shelter for a home of their own.

The mission statement of the RLC is to offer physical and spiritual essentials to those in need, enabling them to provide for themselves and their families. They reach out with the love of Jesus Christ to neighbors who are homeless, hurt and struggling. They rely on donations and not government spending.

RLC also operates the Restoration Life Center Family Store, located at 308 East Spring Street in downtown Neosho. Resident of RLC work there and learn potential job skills as well. The store is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information or to make a donation, call 417-451-0157.

The family store serves as a central resource to collect all charitable donations from the community. Donated items are first distributed to families in need or utilized by the shelter. Remaining donated items are then sold to the public. All proceeds go to our general fund to provide necessities for those served by the RLC.​