Let’s all work together to do God’s work to Love one another. It takes a village.
It Takes a Village
Do you have a self-reminder in the back of your mind that you keep brushing aside – a sticky note that keeps falling into the crevices of your consciousness – to commit to taking action and do more Good in the world? Do you have a stirring feeling in the pit of your stomach or in the depths of your heart that is telling you that now is the time to give back, to serve those less fortunate, to cultivate God’s Love? If these sound familiar, I urge you to read on.
An Outreach School Year in Review
Through the efforts of St. Matt’s parishioners like you, in the 2021-22 school year, we have made a positive impact on and strengthened our reach into the surrounding Sterling community. Volunteers have stepped forward and have been working hard at maintaining regular contact and building relationships with our local schools’ parent liaisons, whose primary purpose is to know and support students and their families. The following people have built and now own these vital community relationships:
Guilford Elementary: Lisa Lintelman
Park View High School: Heidi Lathrop
Potowmack Elementary: Allison Lesser
Rolling Ridge Elementary: Malou Rennert
Sterling Elementary: Ann Lowden
Sterling Middle School: Adrienne Miller
Sully Elementary School: Malou Rennert
Robey High School: Linda Merola
These relationships have served as the basis for a majority of Outreach efforts for the 2021-22 school year, enabling us to direct exactly what is needed to the very people who need it most.
Easter baskets (175+ bags)
Thanksgiving baskets (200+ bags)
School supply drive (over $5,000 worth of supplies/gift cards)
Winter coat drive (200+ coats)
Giving Tree (presents for 22 families PLUS over 500 items for Mobile Hope)
Teacher Appreciation Luncheon for Rolling Ridge Elementary’s teachers and staff
Be the Change donations (hundreds of items to include food, diapers and toiletries since January 2022)
Additionally, Hilary Hultman-Lee has continued to lead our Backpack Buddies efforts, regularly giving over 250 kids food to carry them through their weekends, serving students and building her own relationships at Countryside Elementary, Horizon Elementary, Lowes Island Elementary, Potowmack Elementary, Rolling Ridge Elementary, River Bend Middle School, Potomac Falls High School and Park View High School.
Think of how many folks we’ve helped through these school-based efforts because of these leaders and you, our generous St. Matt’s parishioners, who so enthusiastically support our events. (And don’t forget about our Outreach efforts outside the school system – the Celebration Garden, LINK food pantry, CARE Response Team, and volunteer events, among others!)
We Really Need Your Help!
The truth is, there are a select few who lead these efforts and we need help. The more of us who participate in St. Matt’s Outreach efforts, the more Love we can share, the more Lives we can impact, the more we become a true Community – a village. How can you help, you ask? Here’s a menu of options (so many options) that you can peruse to determine what best meets your Outreach aspirations:
Vacation Bible School: St. Matt’s has a wonderful new leader for this event who needs your help! VBS is a children’s summer camp (for ages 3 to 4th grade graduates) that takes place July 25th-29th from 5:30-8:30PM at St. Matt’s and is filled with awesome Bible-learning experiences kids will see, hear, touch, and even taste! Sign your child up for this fun-filled week and/or help us to prepare for it. We need tons of help decorating, working in the kitchen, leading pre-school and elementary school classes and stations. Register to volunteer - even if it's before VBS! REGISTER HERE
School Supply Drive: We’ve gotten a head start on the planning process this year but would love to have a leader to tally/organize the collections and distribution of requested school supplies to our Sterling schools. This is a good opportunity to give back in a big way over the course of just one summer month each year!
Hunger Response Team of Sterling: A team of people from St. Matt’s have started a secular non-profit organization to augment our donations for meeting the basic needs of our Sterling families. We are in the formation stages and need folks with Spanish-speaking / fundraising / grant writing / research experience to help us get up and running! We have been granted our 501(c)3 status and are just getting the wheels turning.
Be the Change: This one is really simple: Place a nice waterproof container on your front porch, tape a St. Matt’s “Be the Change” sign to it - FOUND HERE, and tell your neighbors you are helping to collect food and toiletries for our Sterling neighbors dealing with food insecurity (print our flyers; post to neighborhood Facebook page and share our “What We Need” posts during the school year; inform by word of mouth). Bring donations to church with you on Sundays!
Celebration Garden: Get your hands dirty and help us to grow organic vegetables to nourish our Sterling neighbors. Heidi Lathrop hosts volunteer hours in the garden located on the front lawn of St. Matt’s church every Tuesday morning 8:30AM-10:30AM in the months of June through October. If you are unable to join on Tuesday mornings and would like to be a part of our watering/ weeding crew, please send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LINK: St. Matt’s is a member of LINK – a local food pantry that delivers groceries to local families on a regular basis. Melissa Hancock leads this effort on behalf of St. Matt’s. LINK always needs volunteers to make deliveries. Look for sign-ups here: www.stmtts.org/LINK
Backpack Buddies: During the schoolyear, Hilary Hultman-Lee leads our Outreach efforts to send over 250 kids home with a bag full of meals every weekend and regularly needs volunteers to pack. During the schoolyear, packing takes place on Tuesdays at 11 am in the Classrooms on the Hill, except the first Tuesday of each month when packing is at 7 pm.
Haiti Fundraiser: Last year, St. Matt’s held our first fundraiser in support of a school named St. Mathieu’s that teaches over 200 kids in Chapoteau, Haiti. Several of our own parishioners have gone on the voyage to visit this school in person (involving planes, cars, boats and a hike to get there) and have returned energized to support this school by feeding its students. This fundraiser will occur again this fall, led again by Genevieve Zetlan. Please reach out to her if you can volunteer for this BBQ-, music- and fun-filled event at email@example.com.
Winter Coat Drive: This is another opportunity that consists of a concentrated time commitment in the October timeframe. We need a leader to organize and manage the coat drive for the benefit of our local Sterling families. You will be instrumental in keeping potentially hundreds of Sterling kids and their parents warm and cozy during those cold winter months.
Giving Tree: Learn from the best as Heidi Lathrop will mentor new leaders who can carry this effort into the future, giving families what they wish for – which is often a basic need – for Christmas.
Volunteer Events: Do you already volunteer for a charitable organization that you love? Want to share the experience/opportunity to serve that cause with St. Matt’s parishioners? Reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org and coordinate a volunteer event we can all be a part of.
For all of these opportunities, you will be mentored and supported by our Outreach and St. Matt’s community. Our Outreach efforts at St. Matt’s make up the fabric of who we are and we need your help to advance these efforts going forward. Let’s all work together to do God’s work to Love one another. It takes a village.
Kristin Drummond, St. Matt’s Outreach Coordinator