Spirit of Christmas thrives in downtown Olympia during annual celebration

Cody Simmons has kept the spirit of Christmas alive and thriving in downtown Olympia for the past six years.

He founded an all-day celebration called A Home For Christmas as a way to bring comfort and joy to families in need.

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday at Reality Church, 620 Franklin St. SE, for snacks and warm drinks as well as activities, such as bingo. Thousands of dollars in gift cards were given away for places such as Target and Subway. Guests were treated to a Christmas feast with all the trimmings.

At age 13, Simmons and his mother were homeless and had spent that year’s Christmas in their unheated car. Simmons, now 28, has since dedicated his life to ministry and helping the less fortunate.

“Now that I’m in a different situation, I feel like I should bless others,” he said. “This is what Christmas is all about.”

Some of Simmons’ blessings go beyond the annual celebration at Reality Church. Last year, Simmons raised $5,000 to send a local family of five on an all-expenses paid trip to Disneyland.

However, the surprise trip took on a larger meaning for recipients Mike Grace and family. Grace’s wife, Tiffanie Terry, and two of the couple’s three children had never met his parents, who live in Southern California.

Inspired through prayer, Simmons learned about Grace’s situation and wanted to make that meeting happen. The gift was presented to the family one year ago on Christmas Day during the annual celebration at Reality Church. In February, the family made the trip.

Grace said God had been telling him to visit his parents for seven years, the length of time since he had last seen them.

“My mom and wife melted in each other’s arms,” Grace said of the reunion. “We were all blessed.”