This year has certainly been a different one! And Advent at St. Michael’s will be different, too. The Giving Tree, anticipated by many, will be missing. But the Outreach & Justice Council is still fulfilling its mission of outreach to those small, often local ministries for which our funds make a welcome difference. If instead of the tree tags you would like to make a gift to one or more of them, the Council has confidence that the five agencies below fit that description. As you ponder your Advent giving, look over the short descriptions below; go to their websites to learn more, and make a donation.
- Housed in a UCC church in the Concordia neighborhood and under the auspices of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO), the HIV Day Center is a drop-in center for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. Services are curtailed during this epidemic, but still offers meals, restrooms and a smile. Usually their services include showers, laundry, counseling, clothing, computer use, foot and hair care, activities, and a warm place to gather. For information and to donate, go to http://www.hivdaycenter.org/
- Remember the yummy olive oil and tapenades we bought during the past Advent Fairs? Supplied by Canaan Fair Trade, which was founded by a Palestinian-American, it is a collective for hundreds of Palestinian olive farmers who grow their crops sustainably and organically and sell at fair-trade prices. Go to www.canaanfairtrade.com and order oil, masks and more.
- Who doesn’t love baby chicks and goats? They’re not just cute—they’re a gift that keeps giving! The Episcopal Relief and Development’s (ERD) Gifts for Life is a program that offers a way for struggling families in other countries to have meat, eggs, milk, and the animals’ progeny to nourish and sustain them into the future. Prices vary, but all donations are life-sustaining. Go to http://episcopalrelief.org, scroll down to Gifts for Life, and visit the catalog for giving options.
- Portland businessman Homer Williams was inspired by a San Antonio project for helping the homeless and sparked Harbor of Hope here in town. Oregon Harbor of Hope opened a homeless shelter under the Broadway Bridge and presently has two box trailers providing shower and laundry facilities to the downtown and SE homeless folks. They have purchased land on NE Glisan and plan to construct over 200 affordable apartments for low-income residents. Go to oregonharborofhope.org for information and donation opportunities.
- Under the sponsorship of Salt and Light Lutheran Church, EcoFaith is a tiny organization with one half-time and one quarter-time employee and has been hard-hit by the Covid pandemic. It primarily seeks to develop leadership and community organizing skills through centering spiritual practices and working toward efforts such as the recent passage of the Portland Clean Energy Fund, Just Vote, and encouraging faith communities to sequester carbon in the soil. To donate, go to http://www.ecofaithrecovery.org/give-to-ecofaith-recovery-2/.
May these ideas stir your hearts to help those less fortunate than we are, and may your holiday season be bright, from your friends serving in the Outreach and Justice Ministries Council.