Faith In Action
• Putting our faith into action has always been very important to Unitarian Universalists.
Our church has many faith-in-action activities and events, some which happen year around and others that are seasonal. For some FIA projects, we partner with or support the efforts of other organizations. For others, our church members and friends plan and implement the entire project.
Check out the many faith-in-action opportunities below.
YEAR AROUND FAITH-IN-ACTION ACTIVITIES
Faith-in-Action planning meetings
Fourth Sunday of even-numbered months
12:20 p.m. in the Martin House
Faith-in-Action activities are open to everyone; you don’t need to be on the FIA committee to participate. However, attending FIA meetings allows you to be part of the decision-making and planning. To share ideas for future FIA activities or for more information, contact FIA chair Mike Seering.
Offering in Action
All undesignated funds in the offering basket on the third Sunday of each month are donated for social justice or an organization which reflects our UU principles.
All undesignated* cash in the offering basket on March 18 & April 15 will be donated to the UU College of Social Justice. The UU College of Social Justice is a joint program of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the UU Service Committee that offers service learning journeys for all ages, social justice training for high school youth, and internships for college-age young adults. All these opportunities are guided by a commitment to human rights and grounded in UU theology, history and contemplative practices. For more information, visit www.uucsj.org.
Since our Offering in Action began in July 2016, UUCH has donated $3367.70 to programs and organizations, including Planned Parenthood of Maryland, the Equal Justice Initiative, League of Women Voters, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, CASA (local shelter for people in domestic violence), the local Humane Society, the area library system, the Unitarian Universalist Disaster Relief Fund, and the Literacy Council of Washington County.
Selection of the recipient of the Offering in Action donations currently rotates among six church groups to encourage input from a wide range of UUs: the Book Group, the RE students, the Women’s Spirituality Group, the congregation-at-large, the UUCH board; and the Men’s Discussion Group. If you want to suggest an organization, talk to board trustees-at-large, Donna Catling and Jerry Harness, who are responsible for the program.
This outreach project was proposed by board members who also participate in the Men’s Discussion Group, after reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Many UU churches of all sizes are now giving away all or part of their Sunday offerings and report increased donations for both the outreach and support of the church.
Our church provides packs of weekend food during the school year for at risk children at Paramount Elementary School.
Each Friday afternoon these school children receive a bag or backpack of food for two days (or three days for a long weekend) —three meals and a snack for each day— fruits, vegetables, cereal, juice, shelf-stable milk, tuna, peanut butter, crackers, soups, and other nutritious foods in individual serving-size packages.
The spring 2017 Micah’s Backpack survey showed that 91% of the children share the food with their families. 75% of the teachers believe that the children are more engaged in learning. 81% of the parents feel their children are doing better in school. (See the full survey results at the end of this page* .)
Feeding one child during the school year costs approximately $350 – $400. Some food for Micah’s Backpack is available at a reduced cost from the local food bank but our MB coordinator, Tracy Barlup still estimates that our out-of-pocket costs will be $4,250 – $5,100 for the school year. Our UUCH budget includes $2000 for Micah’s Backpack but this will not be enough.
How you can help:
- Donate Money: Your contributions are essential to ensure that these children are not hungry. Give monetary donations, with “Micah’s Backpack” in the memo line of any check, to our church treasurer, Mike Shaw..
- Donate Food: Leave your food donations in the box in the foyer. A list of needed foods and sizes is posted on the FIA bulletin board in the sanctuary foyer. Please follow the list as the Micah’s Backpack guidelines are very specific about types and sizes of food.
- Help Pack Meals in the Martin House basement after the service every other Sunday. People of all ages are encouraged to participate.
Micah’s Backpack packing schedule:
If you are interested in helping or for more information about the program, contact Tracy Barlup.
CASA shelter for abused women
Abused women and their children often arrive at the CASA shelter with little but the clothes they’re wearing. They need personal care items; bath towels, wash cloths, blankets; disposable diapers; children’s clothing and toys; paper products; laundry supplies; grocery store gift cards; and school supplies. Most needed now are cleaning supplies (especially laundry supplies), toilet paper, paper towels, and non-perishable food items.
See the complete list of current CASA needs on the Faith-in-Action bulletin board in the sanctuary foyer. For more information, talk to Dodie Ruskie.
Recycling at UUCH
Aluminum Cans: Put your cans in the labeled bin on the barn porch. Help the earth and our church. Remember: aluminum cans only. No foil or other metals. Cans are taken to a local recycler; the money earned goes to the church.
Batteries: Place items in the labeled bins on the barn porch. Both rechargeable and non-rechargeable dry-cell batteries of any size (AAA-D) as well as battery packs from cell phones, cameras, laptops and power tools can be recycled. Mike Seering is now taking our batteries to a recycling program where he works.
All Other Recyclables (paper, plastic): Put in the appropriate container in the sanctuary, in the Martin House kitchen or in the green recyclable can outside the Martin House. Volunteers are needed to take items to recycling collection areas.
Fair Trade coffee, tea & chocolate
Our church participates in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Coffee Project with Equal Exchange, an employee-owned fair trade company. A portion of all proceeds is returned to the UUSC to support its development projects. Contact our church UUSC representative, Janet Bartels for more information.
SEASONAL FAITH-IN-ACTION ACTIVITIES
HARC Hike for Hunger & Hope
Saturday in June 9 at the C&O Canal
Our church is a sponsor for the HARC Hike for Hunger and Hope, a non-competitive fundraising event open to all ages. Designed for all abilities with 4K, 10K and half marathon, the hikers are supported with snacks and drinks along the way and provided lunch after the event. This year’s hike includes a new photo scavenger hunt for youth teams and a nature scavenger hunt for younger children.
For more information, visit http://harccoalition.org/hike/. Registration closes June 8. Register before May 20 for reduced fee and a guaranteed hike t-shirt.
Hagerstown Hopes Annual Pride Festival
Saturday in June or July in downtown Hagerstown
Our church is a sponsor each year of the Pride Festival. UUCH volunteers staff a table with information about the Standing on the Side of Love movement and UUism’s long history of LGBTQ activism in society and active participation in our congregations. (Our church is a UUA-recognized Welcoming Congregation.)
Hagerstown Hopes was established in 2012 to bridge the gap between the straight and LGBTQ community. For more information, visit www.hagerstownhopesmd.org or the Hagerstown Hopes Facebook page.
Saturday morning in August
at St. John’s Lutheran Church on South Potomac St.
Despite its name, the Free-For-All is more like a swap meet with everyone encouraged to bring something to share with others.
Bring garden produce, clothing, toys, books, household items, or anything else you wish to give away. School supplies and children’s clothing would be particularly appropriate.
Since part of the goal for this event is for our church to be a presence in the community, please bring your items to the courtyard Saturday morning and stay for the conversation and community involvement. There is ample parking behind the church.
If you can not bring your donations, please clearly label them “Free for All” and leave them on the center table inside the first barn door (beside the recycling cans) before the event. Volunteers are needed very early on that Saturday to transport items left at our church and to help set up. For more information or to volunteer, contact Faith-in-Action chair.
The Free-for-All was started in 2009 by Lou Murray, our previous UUCH musician. The event moved to St. John’s in 2012.
Children’s Book Drive
Whole month of September
Donate books for children from infancy to age 11. Books are distributed to local organizations and schools for use in literacy programs and for at-risk children to take home.
During the September drive, leave your new and gently-used books in the collection box in the sanctuary foyer. If you’ve given all your books in previous years, check out Wonder Books (607 Dual Highway), Booksavers (13625 PA Ave.), and other area sources for used and new books.
In the 2017 book drive , our church donated eight boxes of children’s books. Throughout Washington County, 13,849 books were collected in the community book drive, co-sponsored by the Hagerstown Area Religious Council (HARC), United Way, Rotary Club, FedEx and the Early Childhood Advisory Council.
For more information, contact the book drive coordinator, Shauna Seering.
Taste of the Town REACH Fundraiser
Sunday evening in September
Hager Hall Conference Center; Hagerstown, MD
Cost in 2017 was $45 per person. Reservations required
Taste of the Town is a great opportunity to sample foods from more than 20 restaurants, bakeries and caterers while also supporting REACH, the local, faith-based organization that operates the cold-weather homeless shelter and other programs. Our church usually reserves a 10-person table, which fills up fast. Next September, If you’d like to join our UUCH table, give your check, payable to UUCH (memo line Taste of the Town) to our church treasurer. For more information, visit www.tasteofthetownwc.com or contact faith-in-action chair Mike Seering.
Potter’s Bowl to support free clinic
Sunday evening in November at the Elks Club
Cost in 2017: $50 per person. Limited seating.
Enjoy a meal, take home a hand-made bowl, and help the Community Free Clinic, which has been providing free medical care and prescriptions to medically uninsured Washington County residents since 1990.
If you’d like to attend, give your check for $50, payable to UUCH (memo line Potter’s Bowl), to our church treasurer. For more information, contact Dodie Ruskie.
REACH Cold-Weather Shelter
Several evenings, usually in December
Our church has been volunteering with the Cold Weather Shelter for many years. In 2017, we are hosted two nights at the shelter.
In addition to providing an evening meal each evening, UUs also assisted the REACH staff in other areas, including registration, laundry co-ordination, and socializing with the shelter guests.
For more information about REACH, visit http://reachofwc.org/
*Micah’s Backpack 2017 Survey Result
During the spring of 2017, the Washington County Public Schools conducted a survey with all of the Micah’s backpack recipients, their parents and teachers who are involved in the distribution of the program. The survey resulted in 143 returned student responses, 56 returned parent responses and 81 returned teacher responses.
Of the responses, 66% of students indicated they were less hungry as a result of receiving a weekly backpack, 91% indicated that they shared with their family, and 60% said there are still times when they are hungry and have nothing to eat. Additionally, 77% indicated that they were better able to pay attention in school, 29% stated that sometimes they come to school just to get food, which is up from 20% last year, and 65% responded that their family still needed more food.
When asked what they didn’t like about Micah’s Backpack, 44% had no complaints. Of the items they didn’t like, 15 students responded that they didn’t like the vegetables and fruits, 12 student responded they didn’t like the milk, 8 students responded they didn’t like the ravioli type food, and 9 students responded that didn’t like the cans or that the bags were heavy.
When responding about the items students liked about the program the following quotes were received:
- We can get some food that we can’t afford.
- It’s nice to have extra food in the house.
- If I am out of food, it gives me the food without having to take money from my piggy bank.
- More food for me and my family. There is more food in the house.
- The food taste good!
- It gives me food for over the weekend.
- I like to get food, sometimes we don’t have much food at my house.
- The food is good, and it make my family have good food.
- We get food in our stomach, we get food we don’t usually can afford.
Lastly, in response to concerns about bullying, 88% of students indicated that they do not get picked on for receiving a backpack.
Of the responses, 81% indicated that their child is doing better in school since receiving the backpack, 69% indicated their child is less sick and thus misses less school since receiving a backpack, which is significantly up from last year at 41%. Additionally, 76% responded that they do feel more engaged in their child’s school since receiving a backpack. Furthermore, 33% of parents indicated that someone in the family skips meals because they cannot afford enough food and 54% stated that they had additional children that could use more food. Lastly 78% indicated that the backpack allows them to be able to pay other bills.
When responding about what they liked about the backpacks the following statements were made:
When responding about the items they do not like there we no clear concerns other than a few comments relating to the cans (weight), not liking tuna or chicken salad. Predominantly the remarks were positive.
- Everything. It was so assuring he would get a breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack during the weekend.
- It helps out when we are waiting on our food stamps, and are running low on food.
- Very nice they send food on extended days home from school.
- It helps me feed my kids.
- Keeps food in the house when we are running out at the end of the month.
Of the teacher responses 62% indicated that the students are absent less which is up from last year at 44%. Additionally, 64% responded that the students are better behaved, 75% believe the students are more engaged in learning and 92% believe the program has fostered a more positive relationship between the students and the teacher. Furthermore, 59% indicted that the students grades have improved since receiving a backpack and 52% believe the students complain of fewer health issues. In reference to family dynamics, only 20% have indicated more parental engagement at school, 32% stated they the students indicate fewer problems at home and 34% stated that the receiving students have indicated that other members of their family are food insecure.
When asked for additional feedback some of the comments, there was not many negative comments. Most teachers commented the program is great and doing well. The most negative feedback was the heaviness of the bags.
Lastly, all teachers responded that they have never witnessed bullying in relation to this program, one respondent stated if anything other children wanted it too.