The Advent Season is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, and of hope, peace and joy. We at Pine Shores have a history of embracing this special time of the year by serving others through Alternative Christmas Giving (ACG).
Alternative Christmas Giving presents all of us an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many, both locally and abroad. Please find below descriptions for each of the organizations that our generous members at Pine Shores can support.
Our feature mission for the Christmas Mission and Peace Offering is CEPAD, The Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua. CEPAD is partnering with Living Waters of the World (LWW) to provide water purification systems to individual homes in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. CEPAD understands how essential water is and what a difference access to clean water can make for a healthy community. As of today, CEPAD has installed 696 water purification systems at the low cost of $35.00 per unit.
The SPARCC Stocking tree will be up along with the Alternative Christmas Giving (ACG) tables both in the Narthex and in the Community Center from Sunday, December 3rd through Sunday, December 17th. Please take time to stop by one of the ACG tables. Members of the Mission Committee will be there to answer any questions that you may have.
Two other ways of participating during the Advent season include the Cookie Walk, sponsored by our youth, on Sunday, December 3rd from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the Community Center and opportunities for Red Kettle Bell Ringers for the Salvation Army, with times available through December 23rd. Signup sheets are available on Sundays or in the church office.
Giving to others in need of help and hope is an integral part to Christ-like living.
ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT IN 2017
BackPack Kids Program
BackPack Kids is a local program for those children in Sarasota County who qualify for free meals at their school. Pine Shores is partnered with All Faiths Food Bank and Gulf Gate Elementary again this year. For each $160 donation received, one child will receive a backpack of food each Friday during the school year to take home for weekend nutrition. We are currently providing 60 backpacks a week for children at Gulf Gate Elementary.
Children’s Healthy Pantry
(CHP) was founded in 2010 with the objective of providing at-risk children in Title 1 schools in Sarasota Country with additional nourishment each day during the school year. Title 1 schools are those where at least 40% of children are from low income families. In many cases, the healthy snack and the bottle of water each child receives serve as dinner or are taken home to share with younger siblings. CHP is now delivering 30,000 snacks and 5,500 bottles of water per month to eleven Title 1 schools. Unfortunately, this serves far short of the thousands of children who are Title 1 eligible. For every $65 raised, CHP can provide for one child for the entire school year. Students should be able to concentrate on their school activities rather than the emptiness in their stomachs. Childhood hunger is everyone’s responsibility.
Day Camp Scholarships
YOU can help a child be safe, learn and have fun for a day or a week at camp. On days when there is no school and parents have to work, Pine Shores is providing day camps to help meet this community need. Many parents struggle to make ends meet and sometimes are forced to leave their child home alone. The cost is $50 per day or $200 per week to sponsor a child. Please join us as we seek to welcome children and their families to our church in this caring way.
Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization
The ECHO Seed Bank provides small sample packets of seed to those working as development leaders on behalf of the poor, primarily in developing countries. For more information about how you can support ECHO stop by the Alternative Christmas Giving table in the Narthex or the Community Center.
Family Promise is committed to helping low-income families achieve lasting independence. The problems of poverty are complex and there are no simple solutions. It requires an integrated approach that begins with meeting immediate needs but reaches much further to help people to alleviate the root causes of poverty. Your financial support will enable Family Promise to continue in 2018.
Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. Heifer provides livestock, supplies, expertise and support, while project participants reciprocate with hard work and a pledge to pass on what they learn and receive. Recipients of animals and training are expected to share what they learn with their neighbors. Extra agricultural product, such as milk from cows or goats, honey from bees or eggs from chickens, can be both shared within the community and sold at market. This new income, coupled with the training in sustainable practices that our partners receive, allows partners to clothe their families, provide medical care and send their children to school. For a giving menu see information on Alternative Christmas Giving tables.
SPARCC (Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center)
SPARCC provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Its mission is to protect victims and to help them regain their independence. Service is provided at no cost and includes: 24-hour hotline, shelter, safety planning, counseling, case management, children’s programs, information and referral, and transitional housing.
The SPARCC Christmas Stocking Tree is a great way to make a meaningful difference. The paper stockings will be hung with care on the trees in the Narthex and in the Community Center for all to choose from on December 3rd through December 17th. Each paper stocking is printed with a request for a Gift Card from your favorite merchant. Gift card amounts range from $10 to $50 or more and often people take more than one gift card in support of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Gift cards can be placed in the gift box located near to the SPARCC Tree, left at the Alternative Christmas Giving table or brought to the church office during the week.
Beth El Farmworker Ministry, Inc.
Feeding Mind, Spirit and Body
Hunger can come in many shapes and sizes. For those we serve in the farm working community, simply putting food on the table for their families can be a daily struggle. Yet, most parents will tell you how much they hunger for their children to have better opportunities for education, so that their children’s lives may be better than their own.
Beth-El supports the farm working community through its weekly food pantry and community dinners, and through scholarship programs for young and old. For those who hunger for spiritual nurture, Beth-El provides weekly worship services on Sunday and Tuesday in Spanish.
CEPAD (Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua)
CEPAD, in partnership with Living Waters of the World, is providing water purification systems to individual homes in Nicaragua. Clean water is essential for a healthy community and a water purification system can be installed for the low cost of $35.00 per unit.
Christmas Mission and Peace Offering
The Christmas Mission and Peace Offering is a very unique opportunity to remember family or friends by making contributions in their names rather than sending Christmas cards or a casual gift. This year the offering is designated for CEPAD to provide water purification systems for individual homes in Nicaragua. Please return your envelopes no later than Monday, December 18th so we can list your gift in the Christmas Eve bulletin. Acknowledgement cards will be available for you to send to that special person you are honoring – just stop by the Alternative Christmas Giving table to pick up an acknowledgement card (s).
Help decorate the Sanctuary by giving a Poinsettia. This $10 gift gives you an opportunity to honor a loved one or pay tribute to a special person in your life. After the 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Service you may take a poinsettia home or you may leave it to be distributed to a member or friend of Pine Shores who is no longer able to attend church. The deadline for purchasing a poinsettia is Monday, December 18, 2017. On your check please write “Christmas Poinsettias.”
Please write the name of the organization to which you would like to donate on your check. Thank you.