Episcopal Charities celebrated our second annual Advent Days of Service this past December by partnering with 6 community outreach programs across the Diocese. Together, with over 100 volunteers we took a break from the hustle and bustle that comes along with the holidays and focused on the true meaning of Advent.
We began our Advent Days of Service at St. Andrew and St. Luke’s Church in Beacon, NY working with their food pantry. Becky Nielson, who is pictured below, drove to Beacon from Poughkeepsie and is excited to continue work with the food pantry beyond the Advent Days of Service. She encourages others from the area to do the same. Becky reflected on her experience in Beacon and shared with Episcopal Charities that “The people at the food pantry are great and the work is important. I really liked how everyone coming through is treated with such respect and care. There is clearly a relationship that has been built up in the community.”
On the second Saturday of Advent, we worked in partnership with the Bronx High School for Math and Science and numerous other volunteers to work with St. James’ Fordham Square’s food pantry in the South Bronx. Mikaela Berry, the high school group’s coordinator, emphasized her gratitude about the school’s partnership with Episcopal Charities during the Days of Service during the holiday season. She conveyed that she has seen a change in her student’s attitudes after watching them volunteer and a difference in the way they communicate around the meaning of the holiday season. One of the students, who has committed to becoming a regular volunteer at St. James’, lives around the corner from the church, and had never noticed the power in the Bronx community coming together to help their neighbors before volunteering with Episcopal Charities. This student explained that the way she views her community and neighbors was changing because of her volunteer experience.
For the third Saturday in Advent, Episcopal Charities hosted groups at both the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry in Westchester, and at St. Ann’s After-School Program in the Bronx. At Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, members of the Westchester community along with students from the National Junior Honor Society, helped prep the food pantry for their holiday schedule. At St. Ann’s church, children from the after-school program at St. Ann’s came to make holiday arts and crafts with volunteers. Among the volunteers, were sorority sisters from Beta Sigma Zeta, also pictured below, who have since returned to St. Ann’s to help with their reading program.
For the fourth (and final!) Advent Day of Service, Episcopal Charities volunteer’s visited St. Michael’s Community Breakfast and St. Mary’s Community Kitchen, both of which are in Upper Manhattan. Volunteers from across Manhattan helped prep, serve, and greet guests coming in from the cold to a hot meal, made with lots of love! If you’ve enjoyed reading about the Advent Days of Service, please mark your calendars for our Diocesan Wide Day of Service on May 18th. For more information about the Day of Service or regular volunteer opportunities, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Emily Collie-Beard at 212-932-7354 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.