Tag Archives: Christmas

A Circle Around Joe

13 December

Hosanna Industries has had a Christmas Gift Delivery tradition since we were founded.  It has been a part of our story from the very beginning.  The Women of the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown provide pre-purchased and pre-wrapped gifts to the households that we have helped earlier this year.  The Blair family provides beef from their cattle farm, and other friends provide other grocery items to send with the gifts.  Volunteers sign up to act as Christmas angels, and deliver the gifts and groceries to the households.  Often times these are the only gifts these households will receive, and many times new friendships are formed as the volunteers and gift recipients enjoy some Christmas fellowship.  On Saturday, we sent out over 100 volunteers to deliver to local needy households.  We ask that they let us know how their delivery went, and this is one response that we received on Saturday afternoon:


Hi Amanda, and Hosanna Industries,

While it’s fresh on my mind, here is my delivery experience: I called Joe twice and got no answer, left voicemails. I thought maybe he was sleeping in on a Saturday afternoon, maybe working or out running errands. I was close by waiting for a call back and at 10:00 I decided to go knock on his door thinking he might not be answering an unrecognized number. I knocked, he answered with a who are you and what do you what attitude… I let him know my name and mentioned that I was an ambassador of Hosanna Industries and volunteered to delivery some Christmas spirit. I hurried back to my car to grab everything and passed it along to him and we talked at the door. I asked him how are things going, he went on about how life lock deactivated his account and he was mad. He said that he hated life and was thinking of taking a bunch of pills or shooting himself cause there was no reason to live anymore. I mentioned that God puts us all through tests and trails of life and that everyone has a story. In an angry voice he went on to tell me that he no longer believes in God and nothing ever works out. I replied, don’t do that and asked if he had family nearby. He said yes but they can’t help me and said that he thinks he is bipolar and schizophrenic.

That’s when I decided to share a story with him that may give him some hope… I told him that he was lucky to have family and that mine died, my Dad, my Sister, Mom, even my girlfriend. I  told him that I was mad at God years ago and use to whip the middle finger up to the sky and yell at God and that I didn’t believe in him either. The look on his face was now more welcoming and I felt that I had his attention, he calmed down, we continued to talk. He said that he hates the holiday’s, I said so do I. I wasn’t trying to argue or just agree with him but I wanted him to realize that he needs to stop and think of the things that he can honestly say that he is grateful for. I told him that I got a dog which has helped me, then I noticed a turtle crawling across his living room floor, we talked about that for a little bit. I told him to focus on the positive and they will come. To shorten it up, he did ask me 3 times to tell them (Hosanna Industries) thanks for fixing his roof and that it was a job well done. I said I will and mentioned there’s one thing positive…

Side note: I am a little worried about Joe with his comments about taking his life so I ask when all of you are together to say a prayer to have the holy spirit come rock his world a bit like it did mine

Thank you for letting me be a part of the Christmas delivery and Merry Christmas to all of you!!!


This is our founder and executive director’s response:

Dear Ken,

Thank you for your willingness to serve as a volunteer for the mission’s annual gift delivery endeavor today. Thank you, at least as much if not more so, for writing your thoughts about your visit with Joe and for sending them to the mission workers, which have been forwarded to me.

There is power in the Word, and your thoughts have delivered a powerful message to me. It may be that the effect of your words may go on and on into the future and into the hearts of others beyond our ability to perceive. It is often so with the Divine Word.

You made yourself available this morning to deliver some Christmas presents to a needy man. Your presence was not received with warmth and graciousness. Another person may have driven away or left the packages at the door. You persisted.

Your visit was as uneasy as it will be forever memorable. Joe is unhappy, broken, perhaps unwell, and alienated. Upon hearing his story, it would have been convenient for you to casually wish him well and take your leave. Something made you linger. Some One made you stay.

Now the story you have told is being heard by others. It is gripping the hearts of people. At this moment, I can think of about a dozen people who are processing the story of Ken’s visit to Joe. Within a few hours, it may be that a hundred people will hear the Word within the story and discover meaning in it. By tomorrow, perhaps a thousand souls will hear the Christmas story told once again in a new a very contemporary setting, and as a result, they may never be quite the same again. This is the power of God’s Word.

You entered a home that is darkened by the influences of dreams broken, relationships severed, hopes torn, and health fractured. Your willingness to gently persist in conveying the quiet and positive message of another way is the essence of Christmas itself, for it signifies the Spirit of the One who comes into the world at the first Christmas and ever since. Your presence with Joe today is a reflection of Christ’s presence in and to this world.

He was sent as a gift from God, but the world was largely unaware of His birth. The shepherds came to the scene of His birth, and left rejoicing, but we know nothing of their witness ever again.

In the unlikeliest of times and places, He was born. Mary and Joseph were there, accompanied by a few disreputable sheep-herders who reported a vision of singing angels. Most analysts of the day would have considered them perhaps drunk or at least delusional. The world itself, 2000 years ago, had many more important things to do than to take note of the birth of an illegitimate baby peasant Jewish boy swaddled in cloths and placed in a manger crib.
Nothing seemed less significant.

With God, it is often so.

A little, vulnerable Light came into the world in Bethlehem when Christmas first happened. Anything could have snuffed out that Light. Jesus could have died of infant mortality as many children did back then, He could have been slaughtered in the military massacre that would happen in Bethlehem two years later. He could have been lost to child-traffickers in Jerusalem at the age of 12, He could have drowned in a river as a playful boy or as a young man of 30 about to be baptized.

Anything could have and indeed has threatened the Light, but even today after 2000 years, the darkness of this world has not overcome it.

Ken, you took that Light to Joe’s home today on behalf of a little mission that was born because many Christmases ago, someone else visited another home darkened by abject poverty, and in the despair of that moment, saw Christ.

We never know what happens to light. It can be rejected and refused, but it can also be received. No matter what we do with it, light can never be destroyed.

So it is with Christ and Christmas. We can reject and refuse the Light that it graciously offers, or we can refuse it, but we can never destroy it.

We don’t know what will happen to Joe because you visited him today, we can’t determine what he will do with the Light you presented, but in a strange way, it really doesn’t matter. You already brought Christ, and Christmas, to one of God’s needy children in this world oppressed with the darkness of unkindness, violence, and greed. You shined Light in the darkness, and the darkness, no matter what may come, cannot destroy that Light, in time or in eternity.

The man who pastored the church where Hosanna Industries was born taught me a poem many years ago which he had learned from his father a generation earlier. Back in 1934, these words began to be used in a Christmas Eve candle lighting service, and to the best of my knowledge, they’ve been repeated, somewhere, every Christmas Eve ever since for the last 83 years:

“Lord, it is dark, and the road is rough to go,

I lift an unlit candle in the night, behold it Lord within my upraised hand,

Touch it to flame with Thine own heavenly Light.

This slender waxen thing that is my faith, fire it, Lord,

until its circle, ever widening at my feet, will light my certain path across the dark.

‘Thou will light my candle’, thus assured, I shall go forward through this unknown land.

The way shall never grow too dark, too long, for I shall bear Thy Light within my hand.”

Ken, on behalf of all who have served and are serving the One who has called us at Hosanna Industries, thank you for shining your Light in the darkness today. Nothing can ever be the same once Light has been given.

May the Light of this Sacred Season continue to guide your path,

-Donn Ed

Hammers Hearts and Hands: November, 2017

07 December

Just a few days ago, as the sun was beginning to fall in the western sky, I found myself racing against the clock to make some progress on an important outdoor project, attempting to complete this work before the onset of winter. With saw and hammer, I set my focus upon the task of completing some simple framing, but in the process I inadvertently nailed several boards in an improper location.

Despite all the years of accumulating knowledge and experience in this field and despite my intention of doing a good job, I had done something that I’m never proud of doing. I had made a mistake.

Believe me, I am more than qualified to make that statement. I’ve made innumerable mistakes over the years of my life, and my dossier of mistake-making is more extensive than I am happy to admit. I’ve made mistakes in judgement, logic, and perception. I’ve made errors in decision-making, listening, speaking, and doing. I seriously doubt that there’s even one aspect of my life into which mistake-making hasn’t insidiously entered.

When I was a young man, I probably would have taken a sledgehammer to the framing mistake, demolishing what I had to work with, and leaving no alternative but to start all over again. That’s a human option, but it’s expensive. I’m not young anymore. My hands didn’t reach for a sledgehammer, but instead they picked up a tool called a “cat’s paw”, designed to discretely retract an embedded nail without causing too much damage to the overall work. Carefully, I applied the physics of this tool to my framing error and in a few well-spent minutes I was able to undo the wrong I had done without being destructive.

2000 years ago, a little baby boy was born to an unmarried and bewildered couple in a town called Bethlehem of Judea, half-way around the world from the region we call home. His newly born body was swaddled in long strips of cloth and placed in a borrowed, crudely built manger as His family had no proper cradletoputintouse. Thirty-three years later His scourged and flesh-torn body,now dead,would be removed from a Roman cross of crucifixion, wrapped in long strips of cloth again, and placed in a borrowed grave.

Without God’s grace, the life of Jesus, from birth to death, would arguably be just another sad portrait of a life riddled with the results of mistakes that have always plagued the human race. With God’s grace, however, His life becomes the miracle of salvation and the emblem for all true human progress. Jesus is the instrument, the tool, of divine grace that God sent into the world to repair all the mistakes we make without making things worse. Jesus is the personification of God’s grace in this world. He is the living incarnation of God’s will, not to condemn but to correct, to build rather than demolish, to be constructive instead of destructive.

Our world is self-destructing under the sledgehammer swing of pride, hostility, hatred, terrorism, violence, senselessness, bigotry, judgmentalism, and meanness. We are hurting one another, hurting the human race, hurting God, and hurting the cause of the Christ whom God sent into the world to save. Our pride and arrogance have grown large and heavy like the head of a 20-pound sledge and we ignore the delicate utility of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s “cat’s-paw” in the Divine Builder’s Toolbox.

Nearly 28 years ago, Hosanna Industries was born to be an instrument of grace in God’s world. The mission has never known a day since its beginning on which destructiveness could not have prevailed. But we were and are called by Christ to be constructive, to build rather than destroy, to help rather than to hurt, to heal rather than injure. We have been invited to share in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and what a year of grace this has been! Since last Christmas, the mission’s service log reports that we have been privileged to help 161 needy households, work with 1675 volunteers, and use all of the gifts generously given to build more than two million dollars worth of equity in this world. We have made blunders, errors, mistakes in various ways, but God’s grace has been sufficient in correcting the way without condemning the work. God’s grace always prevails if we allow it to work.

Very soon, the Holiday Season will be upon us once more. For a little while, the world will be full of the signs of Christmastime. Lights, decorations, trees, presents, parties, carols and candles will ornament our experience, but will we grasp the profound and transforming meaning of it all? Sledgehammers work, if demolition is what you are aiming to do. But must we behave with demolition in mind? Isn’t there a better alternative? Christmas means there is a better alternative and its name is Grace in the person of Jesus.

With this newsletter, you will find enclosed our traditional Christmas present to you, dear friend. It’s another Hosanna hand-made Christmas tree ornament, our 24th in a row, this one made by Amy out of the same kind of canning lid that the mission has used for many years in harvesting God’s produce from the garden and in processing thousands of jars of good food for hungry people. I hope you enjoy it as you include it in your Christmas decorations this year. We give this little gift to you with all the grace we have been given, reminding you as well as ourselves that Christmas is always a choice, because Christ is always the most important choice a person can ever make. This Christmas, choose Christ. Choose His ways of love and forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. Give Christ a chance to correct rather than condemn. You will be amazed at what the Master Carpenter can do if you let Him carefully do His work. Perhaps as you light a candle this Christmas Eve, please know from the bottom of Hosanna’s heart, how very grateful we are for you and for all that you do to help us carry on in our work. Please continue to pray for us, remembering the worth of God’s grace in this world, His grace made known to the world in and through your own precious life, and sing with your voice of faith together with God’s children everywhere:

Silent night, Holy night, Son of God, Love’s Pure Light!
Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face,With the dawn of redeeming Grace, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

Love and grace to you with unending gratitude, dear Hosanna friend, this Season and always,


Read more in our 2017 November Newsletter.

Festival of Trees 2017 Recap

07 December

We are thrilled to announce that the 2017 Festival of Trees raised over $20,000! We exceeded our goal, and are so thankful for the generous support. Over the three day event, we saw some 700 people come through the doors to see almost 60 creative Christmas trees. Thanks to the 30+ volunteers who helped make it happen, the tree decorators who made gorgeous trees, the sponsors who gave dollars, our media sponsors who promoted the event, the generous people who gave through the Giving Tree, the numerous businesses who donated food and drinks, the many musicians who performed beautifully, and Quality Gardens our gracious hosts. (Photos of the event coming soon.) Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow! 🎄

TOP TEN things you can do TODAY (Giving Tuesday) to give back

24 November

Today is Giving Tuesday, and in the spirit of giving, we came up with a TOP TEN list of ways to give back through Hosanna Industries. These are simple things you can do right now.



  1. Say a prayer or two! Pray for the people crying out, “Hosanna, rescue me now, Lord!”
  2. Donate online or mail a check.
  3. Like us on Facebook, share our pages with your friends, or rate us on Facebook.
  4. Write a review about your experience with us on Network for Good, which will help us to receive more support.
  5. Register for our metal-working class to make a handmade Christmas gift.
  6. Sign up to deliver Christmas gifts to a household that we’ve helped this year.
  7. Start collecting spare change. Every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar, etc. makes a difference!
  8. Sign up (at the bottom of our website) for our e-blast to stay in the loop about our work.
  9. Shop like you normally would at Amazon.com (or Amazon Prime) but use Smile.Amazon.com instead, & .5% of every purchase will benefit the mission, with no extra charge to you.
  10. While you’re out running errands, grab something extra. Here’s our wish list: 

Thanks for your support & Merry Christmas!

November 2016: Hammers, Hearts and Hands

05 December

As I write these words, our nation pauses to celebrate Veterans Day in grateful recognition of the thousands upon thousands of men and women who have protected our country’s unique freedoms. One of them, a sergeant by the name of Joyce Kilmer, fought during World War I with the 165th Infantry far from home in the European theatre. He was killed in action near Ourcy, France on July 30, 1918, at the age of 32. Though his loved ones had to suffer the heartbreak of his loss as many do, Sergeant Kilmer left these words which have remained with us for nearly a century –

I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.

Our world couldn’t exist without trees. They cleanse the air and provide oxygen for us to breathe. They hold the soil against erosion and offer habitat for innumerable birds and other small wildlife. They shade the earth from the scorching heat of the Summer, and paint the landscape with breathtaking beauty in the Fall.

Like all living things, they are born to live, they grow, and one day die. Poplars grow twice as fast as oaks, but live only half as long. Even in death, like a poet’s words, trees contribute great value to our lives.

They provide fuel for our fireplaces to heat our homes in Winter. Most of our houses, even if they show a handsome suit of brick, are framed up with wood. The paper you are holding right now came from a gracious tree. The pen I am using was fashioned out of wood. The old rocking chair in my study that I am sitting in right now was once a tree more than a century ago. The bookshelves nearby and all the volumes they hold that have been my teaching companions through the years, all these came from trees. Around the world over, experts tell us that there are more than 23,000 varieties of trees that are an integral part of our planet’s cyclical ecological system.

Wood is a substance unlike any other in our world. It can be split, chopped, rived, and cut. It can be turned, planed, joined, shaped and sanded. It can be burned as fuel, converted into other useful products, or finished with a protective coating intended to last for hundreds of years. Without wood, our music would be limited to the sound of brass.

Once, 2000 years ago, a tree was felled halfway around the world. Its wood was crafted into an old rugged cross upon which the Prince of Glory died. Only God could have anticipated the particular purpose of that tree.

A year ago, when the mission acquired its new facility in Gibsonia and began to re-purpose that property for a new chapter of God’s work, my daughter Emily took note of the beautiful trees there that had lived, while others died, and while others still emerged beneath tall boughs as tiny saplings. In the Autumn she saw how the majestic oaks dropped thousands of acorns upon the ground, each one holding the potential of becoming, one day in due time, another tall oak tree in the forest of our lives.

Nobody but God can make a tree.

It’s been another amazing year at the mission, dear friend! Thank you for all you’ve done in providing the blessings that God used to make all of this possible! We used thousands of 2×4’s and sheets of plywood, swung a lot of hammers, and drove a lot of nails in helping many of God’s needy children during the course of 2016. Much of what was accomplished came from trees that God purposed for such work.

When a little tree is born, perhaps only God can be aware of this new life and all the potential worth that lies within that delicate, fragile structure.

Centuries ago, an unknown carpenter from a far away land took wood from a fallen tree and crafted, with adze, mallet and chisel, a primitive trough. It was built to hold hay for the feeding of animals, but it became the first cradle of a new-born swaddled child whose angel-announced name was Jesus. He would grow up to become Savior of the world.

Soon you may be joining with countless people around the world in decorating your home for the upcoming holiday season. Perhaps a different kind of tree, a Christmas tree, may adorn your own dwelling place. Upon its branches, an unknowable variety of ornaments may be hung, each reflecting its own particular meaningfulness.

Enclosed within this newsletter mailing is our little gift to you. This year, a simple ornament made of wood and stamped with the impression of an acorn. As you hang this little handmade ornament upon your tree, may you be inspired to prayerfully reflect upon the worth of your own God-held life, how you like a tiny acorn, have grown into the great person you are and are yet capable of becoming still!

Only God can fully plumb the depths of potential that lie within an acorn. Only God can know the fullest potential of what yet lies within you and me. Only God can grow greatness.

While all the world slept, a little boy was born to a world aching for God’s love. On that silent night, He was born to “raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth!” His unique life blessed this world forever, and because of that, so can we if we so choose.

Thank you, dear Hosanna friend, for who you are and for all the good you’ve done. May God’s love surround you throughout the Christmas season and always.
-Donn Ed, Founder & Executive Director of Hosanna Industries

Read the rest of this quarter’s newsletter, here.

2015 Christmas Promotions Benefiting Hosanna Industries

15 December

Thanks to the following businesses for including Hosanna Industries in their holiday promotions! Contact Amanda Becker if your company would like to do something similar!

Tom Henry Chevrolet

With the Holiday Season upon us, Tom Henry Chevrolet is turning their attention to those in the community who put the needs of others in front of their own. They are happy to donate a portion of their December New/Pre-Owned vehicle sales to Hosanna Industries, Inc. in support of their mission to help members of their surrounding community. Contact Tom Henry Chevrolet with any questions at 724-443-1575.


Give the gift of employment by joining Express Employment Professionals’ Pay It Forward Holiday Hiring Drive as they strive to place 60 job seekers in Pittsburgh during the weeks of December 8th, 2015 through January 4th 2015. Being out of work during the holidays can be particularly tough, and Express would like to make sure as many people as possible earn a paycheck just in time for the holidays. They also want to help Pay it Forward even further by raising money for Hosanna Industries in the process! In the spirit of the season, the Pittsburgh North and Downtown Office in the Greater Pittsburgh Area want to contribute to a cause in order to give back to the communities that they serve and have identified Hosanna Industries as that cause. To learn more, contact your local Express office at 412-366-3661 or by email at [email protected]


At Whole Foods Market Wexford, $.05 is taken off your bill for every shopping bag you reuse. You also have the option to donate that nickel to Hosanna Industries this season! These nickels will add up to valuable dollars to help our needy neighbors. Head to Whole Foods to support Hosanna Industries with your Nickels for Nonprofits!