When I started this role back in September, I remember Noah mentioning how, when St. Paul's is asked for donations of pretty much any kind, people always step up in a big way. Well, that has certainly proven to be the case this holiday season! I have been blown away by the consistently strong and expansive generosity of this congregation. First, when we initially put up the Angel Tree at the end of November, it had 175 tags on it. Throughout the next several weeks about 25 more tags were added, and every single one of them was taken. That’s roughly 300 gifts to individuals and organizations in need. Rev. Charles’ office was quickly buried as gifts started pouring in, culminating in a festive celebration last Sunday at Share the Joy, where recipients of some of those gifts attended and went home with their hands full of presents, and hearts full of love.
Second, fueled by your pledges, donations and participation in fundraisers such as the Fish Fries and HarvestFest Dinner, the Outreach Commission is able to provide year-end gifts to more than a dozen organizations, many of which we have ongoing relationships with throughout the year. The focus of this Commission is on food insecurity and at-risk children, but also included other vulnerable populations. This year, the Outreach Commission is able to distribute $18,700 in year-end gifts! Below you will find a full list of those organizations and the impact they are having on those in need.
As Jesus teaches us in Matthew chapter 25, when we care for, clothe, feed, or visit with our neighbors in need, we are truly loving God through our actions: “‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” Thank you all for being the hands and feet of Jesus to our neighbors this year!
There are many ways to support our Outreach ministries at St. Paul’s: donating food, household, and health items during collection drives, helping to prepare or serve meals for the homeless, attending fundraisers, and more! If you're looking for ways to jump in and help, please contact Andrea at [email protected].
Summary of 2019 Year-End Distributions
Christ Episcopal Church, Bluefield - Kerosene Ministry: $2,500 Christ Episcopal Church in Bluefield, WV runs a food pantry at the church. They are also the only pantry in town that also provides kerosene, which serves as heating fuel to homes throughout the winter months for many who live in the area. The church is operating the kerosene program for 5 months this year, and St. Paul’s is supporting that essential ministry with a gift of $500 for each month of the program.
Refugee Support Commission: $2,000 The Refugee Support Committee at St. Paul’s was formed in response to the international refugee crisis. Through partnerships with several local organizations, the group aims to link our members’ energy and skills with programs designed to ease the hardships faced by displaced families. Throughout the year, the refugee families participate in several events at the church, including cooking meals, weekly micro enterprise meetings, and selling handicrafts at various church functions. This donation will be used for the ongoing needs that arise throughout the year to support these families.
Meals on Wheels @ the Crossroads: $2,000 Meals on Wheels at Donaldson’s Crossroads, Peters Township delivers more than 35,000 hot meals to seniors every year, providing daily personal contact with each senior and balanced, nutritional meals far below cost. More than 250 volunteers help prepare and deliver meals to seniors from Eighty Four to South Fayette, sometimes driving routes as long as 40 miles and braving the elements to reach seniors in remote locations
Youth Mission Trip: $1,500 Since 2012, our youth have served with ministries in Mercer and McDowell Counties in West Virginia. Projects range from home repair to hunger initiatives, all coordinated by local individuals and organizations. Our youth and chaperones spend a week living in community and working on a variety of sites. These trips mark significant times of spiritual growth for our youth, as well as strengthen our relationship with this region in need.
Severe Weather Emergency Shelter Support: $1,200 In 2016, Operation Safety Net organized the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter (SWES) to expand its homeless outreach. The shelter is housed at the Smithfield United Church of Christ downtown and is open every night from November 15 to March 15. The shelter not only provides a warm meal and a bed for those at risk of freezing on the streets, but also serves as a place where people can connect with resources available to them around the city. St. Paul’s parishioners have greatly helped this effort by providing meatloaves to be served as part of the dinner at the shelter, and also preparing and serving about 10 meals a year. This contribution will be used to cover the costs associated with making the sides and buying all necessary items to transport the meals to the shelter.
Boys and Girls Club, Carnegie: $1,000 The goal of the Boys and Girls Club is to provide every young person with the essential tools needed for a successful and bright future. The Carnegie Club offers a variety of programs in support of this goal: after-school programs, maker classes, flag football, summer camp, and a new BEATS program for teens to express their creativity through music. St. Paul’s supported the Boys and Girls Club in Carnegie over the summer of 2019 by supporting the summer feeding program and also providing weekend bags of food for kids to take home with them. We plan to continue to support this important work in 2020 as well.
Church of the Atonement Christmas Dinner: $1,000 On Christmas Day, our neighbors at The Episcopal Church of the Atonement in Carnegie will serve over 300 dinners to seniors, shut-ins, ill, disabled, Veterans, military service members, first responders and community members. St. Paul’s supported this meal last year and even had some volunteers from the parish help serve the food. Atonement is a small parish church with an active and welcoming congregation, who greatly appreciates this donation each year.
Church of the Advent Christmas Dinner: $1,000 Church of the Advent in Brookline also hosts a Christmas Day meal, serving just over 100 people in the church building but then delivering over 500 meals to shut-ins and those in need in the community. This is the first year St. Paul’s is supporting this meal!
Jeremiah’s Place: $1,000 Jeremiah’s Place, Pittsburgh’s only crisis nursery, provides emergency care for children ages 0-6 for a few hours or a few days based on the needs of the family. Co-founded by one of our parishioners, the primary focus at Jeremiah’s place is to keep children safe and to provide a safe and supportive solution for families in need. Jeremiah’s Place is conveniently located in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh and is staffed by trauma-informed caregivers and social workers. All services provided by Jeremiah’s Place are free, available 24 hours a day, and most importantly, judgment free.
Bethlehem Haven: $1,000 Bethlehem Haven, located in downtown Pittsburgh, provides shelter and supportive services to thousands of homeless women. The continuum of care consists of a range of housing and supportive services designed to enable each woman to identify her needs, develop a plan of action, and achieve a successful outcome.
Blessed Mustard Seed Babies’ Home: $1,000 For almost a decade, St. Paul’s has provided loving support to the babies, children, teenagers, and staff of the Blessed Mustard Seed Babies’ Home in Hoima, Uganda, This project was begun by an Anglican Bishop to help meet the need of the ongoing orphan crisis there. In addition to annual trips to Uganda, St. Paul's provides financial support to cover school fees, and medical and dental care, as well as clothing, school supplies, and craft materials.
South Hills Food Pantry: $500 South Hills Food Pantry provides food to people in the South Hills requiring the services of a food pantry but who have limited mobility or are without transportation. The Food Pantry delivers right to the door! Sponsored by Southminster Presbyterian Church and St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the Food Pantry is completely staffed and run by volunteers. It is fully supported by donations of food and monetary gifts, including our donations on Food Pantry Sundays the first Sunday of each month.
Jubilee Soup Kitchen: $500 Jubilee Soup Kitchen offers a hot mid-day meal to all guests, 365 days a year, and fosters a community of respect and encouragement among guests and volunteers. Through the years, Jubilee Association formed to address additional needs of our guests and to serve our neighborhood, especially children, in an effort to break the cycle of poverty, saving them from ever needing to utilize the Kitchen.
Shepherd Wellness Community: $500 Shepherd Wellness Community, founded in 1985 by Episcopal Priest Father Lynn Edwards, is the only AIDS Community center in western Pennsylvania and the only AIDS community serving the 11-county region of southwestern Pennsylvania. SWC is often the first place a person seeks help after an HIV-positive diagnosis.
Neighborhood Youth Outreach Program at St. Stephens, Wilkinsburg: $500 St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church runs the Neighborhood Youth Outreach Program (NYOP), an after-school program for elementary school children from the surrounding neighborhoods. NYOP uses an arts-based curriculum that includes instrumental music, singing, dance, art, poetry, and photography, all in a Christian context. NYOP is supported by other churches, by grants from foundations, and by gifts from individuals. The NYOP provides a safe place, mentoring relationships, and an atmosphere that promotes personal growth and a sense of belonging.
Coal Country Hangout Youth Center: $500 The Coal Country Hangout Youth Center responds to the social and human service needs in Northern Cambria County. The Coal Country Hangout Youth Center is designed to offer programs needed to counteract the devastation experienced by families in a geographically isolated and economically deprived area. CCHYC’s goal is to continue and to expand a holistic approach to educational, cultural, and spiritual devastation experienced by families as the result of the collapse of its primary industry, coal mining. These young people are increasingly at risk in an emerging global economy with its attendant language and cultural diversities.
Trinity Walk-in Ministry: $500 Trinity Cathedral’s Walk-in Ministry provides the most vulnerable among us food, toiletries, clothing, and referral services. They participate along with four other downtown churches as members of the Downtown Ministerium. The volunteers listen to people, ask what they need, direct them to homeless shelters, food pantries, and other sources of service and assistance listed on a database (for example for a job search, acquiring an ID, getting furniture or clothing, transportation to medical appointments).
Collins Mukisa Medical School Scholarship: $500 Parishioner Ann McStay has been supporting St. Paul and Rose Orphans Care Centre in Buwala, Uganda, since 2011. This project offers holistic care for children and families who need it most. The Centre provides shelter, love, and care for parentless children, as well as teaching them farming, gardening, sewing and other valuable life skills for their future self-support. Collins Mukisa, who grew up at the home, felt a call to become a doctor and give back to his community. He was accepted into the Medical School at Kampala International University, and St. Paul’s has been contributing funding to help ensure he is able to complete his training as a medical doctor and fulfill his call to service.