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Outreach Ministry

We have just learned by Ms. Marifran Bustion has been selected as one of the two Harriet “Happy” Pullman awards chosen for Annual Council.  The award honors individuals who have demonstrated exemplary work in Christian social ministries or outreach programs. Nominees may be either paid staff members or volunteers who contribute at least 25 hours of time per month to an outreach ministry or ministries."  Marifran is recognized for her work in championing the new Outreach Garden and for her many other volunteer contributions to St. Christopher’s.  Congratulations Marifran!

The Outreach Committee of St. Christopher’s is charged with working with internal and external groups to serve those in our community in need.  Members are interested parishioners who are dedicated to our various projects.  A goal is to involve the widest possible participation in our outreach projects. 

The committee oversees the parish outreach budget which makes donations to FACETS, ECHO, local school PTAs, and Habitat for Humanity.  It also oversees the parish outreach equity funds that include the Linda Meagher Hypothermia Prevention Fund and the Outreach Fund.

Projects overseen by the committee include the following by time of year starting in January:

Hypothermia Prevention Program (winter)—through a contract with Fairfax County, FACETS solicits shelter sites for the coldest months of the year.  For the ninth year in a row St. C’s participated in this program, hosting homeless guests for one week in late January.  Volunteer parishioners participated in a myriad of tasks that included purchasing, preparing and serving meals; donating funds; making reminder calls; hosting evenings by spending part of a night(s); providing entertainment; cleaning up each morning for Preschool classes; and many other tasks.  Some 60-70 folks volunteer and host 30-35 guests.  The schedule is for the last week in January/February; planning begins each summer.  There are opportunities for everyone in the parish.  Donations are needed each year to cover costs.  Parishioner Katy Dunlap was the overall coordinator.

Outreach Vegetable Garden—This new project was initiated in the late spring on the Hanover Ave. side of the church property.  It measured some 30 feet by 15 feet and may be expanded this year.  Tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, green beans, squash and zucchini were grown this year, and over 122 total lbs. (including 14 lbs. donated by parishioners) of produce were delivered to Echo this year.  Volunteer parishioners tilled, composted, watered, weeded fertilized and harvested the plot throughout the summer and fall.  The garden attracted the attention of some of our pre-school families who then helped weed and water.  After production ceased, volunteers cleaned up the plot to prepare it for this year.  Nearly 20 volunteers regularly worked this plot and thanks go to Marifran Bustion for conceiving, coordinating, keeping garden records and delivering the produce regularly.  ECHO and its clients were very appreciative to receive fresh produce donations.  The project made excellent use of church property, and another garden is planned this year.

Mother’s/Father’s Days Toiletries Drive(May/June)—These are usually held each year and over 20 bags were donated and delivered to Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington.

ECHO Food Drive (July)—Each year the committee requests dry food donations to fill ECHO’s food pantry.  Over 40 bags were donated this year!  Bags are provided with a suggested shopping list.  Several groups donated eight Thanksgiving baskets to ECHO clients also.  Pam Osborne coordinated the Thanksgiving Basket effort this year.

School Physicals and School Supply Drive (August)—Committee members assist in collecting and preparing backpacks for free school physicals hosted in conjunction with the Fairfax County Health Department in early August.  Many parishioners collect supplies, help stuff backpacks, make reminder calls and assist on the day of the physicals.  This free service assists uninsured students to meet the required physical for starting public school.  Several churches donate money and supplies that go into each backpack.  A grade-appropriate backpack with supplies is given to each child getting a physical.  Over 90 physicals were completed in 2013 at the location we host.  Excess supplies are donated to area schools and ECHO.  Several other churches donate funds and supplies.  Thanks to Don and Lynn Knox for coordinating this event.

United Thank Offering or UTO (November)—The Episcopal Church-sanctioned annual collection occurs just before Thanksgiving with people donating money or coins collected from their blue boxes, which are filled year-round by dropping a coin in the box for each blessing received.  St. C’s donated nearly $3,000.  These funds are combined with several million dollars to fund needed projects both domestically and internationally.

ECHO Toy Drive (December)—On the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Nicholas Sunday (Dec. 6th), parishioners donated toys to the ECHO Toy Drive to allow their clients to “shop” for Christmas.  This year over $5,000 in funds and toys were donated to make memories.  Helen Spence coordinated the collection, purchase of delivery of toys again this year.

School Weekend Backpack Program  For the third year, St. Christopher’s parishioners have generously provided single-service food donations to use in the Power Pack Program or P3, a nationwide program of providing food to school-age children with little food to tide them over the weekend.  After a period of collecting suggested food items, more than 15 members worked to assemble bags containing two breakfasts/lunches/dinners, two snacks, and two drinks. St. Christopher’s provided 105 weekend bags of food to Crestwood Elementary School in February 2017, and another 161 bags were provided earlier this month.  Parishioners are encouraged to buy items from the suggested food donations list throughout the year and bring them to the church.  We look forward to continuing this important program, which serves some of our youngest neighbors in need.

For the committee,
Richard Sellers, Chair