The District's oldest social service agency had a lot to be thankful for Monday.
Central Union Mission received a truckload of food from Wal-mart in time for Thanksgiving, and just as the shelter reaches a new milestone. After three decades at its Northwest location at 14th and R streets, Central Union Mission is continuing to offer resources to the homeless at its new downtown location at 65 Massachusetts Avenue.
These days, Jeff Tooles is in charge of all the food that comes through the shelter, but he says there was a point when drugs and alcohol took charge of his life.
"Everytime I got a job, I'd lose a job, and things were out of control," said Tooles.
But one moment changed his world around for the better when a stranger gave him a simple suggestion: "He said if you keep straight up to 14 and R streets and Central Union Mission is there. Go up there and they'll give you some fresh clothes to put on and a hot meal," said Tooles.
His story is just one of thousands that have come out of the organization founded in 1884 to help homeless and neglected men.
"This facility will be used to draw them in, provide numerous services to get them back on their feet or to give them that boost they need to even desire to get back on their feet," said Central Union Mission Executive Director David Treadwell.
To help them help others, Wal-mart arrived Monday morning with a special delivery of $10,000 worth of food to stock the pantries.
"Cereals, staples like vegetables, soups, stuff that people will be needing as far as nutritional stuff," said Wal-mart store manager Beverly Scott.
One of the first Wal-mart stores in the city is now just a few blocks away from Central Union Mission. As neighbors, they're giving back to their community.
"With the holidays coming up, this is a true blessing from God," said Tooles.
The new Wal-mart on First and H streets is scheduled to open next month.The shelter has been taking clients in since last week at its new location inside the renovated Gales School.