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Advent Generosity: Be the Light

Advent is arguably the busiest time of the year. Too often we become wrapped up in the trappings of Christmas, and it is a challenge as Christians to make time to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. As Adam Hamilton writes in Not a Silent Night, our Advent worship and study book, “Our mission at Christmas is not to get stuff for people to open on Christmas morning. It is to be people of hope who let Jesus’ light shine through them.”

Advent Generosity invites the LAUMC community to share God’s love and grace by making monetary gifts to three worthy causes and—new this year—by participating in service (see service opportunities below). Embracing Advent Generosity this Christmas provides a simple yet effective way to “Be the Light.” Our gifts to Advent Generosity represent our desire to share our love for others by performing acts of kindness, compassion, and goodness. Adam Hamilton tells us, “Grace changes the one who receives it, and it also changes the one who gives it.” We are invited this Advent season to “Be the Light” by emulating Jesus.

Support These Causes

Consider donating to LAUMC’s Advent Generosity campaign on behalf of your friends and family. Or, ask family and friends to make a donation in your honor instead of purchasing a gift for you. By making one donation to Advent Generosity 2016, three worthy programs will be supported:

  • Hope’s Corner, Inc.: Hope’s Corner, Inc., provides weekly meals and showers to people in need in the Mountain View area. Advent Generosity 2016 giving will help Hope’s Corner expand its food service, twice-weekly shower program, and additional services for more than 250 weekly guests.
  • Compassion Week 2017: Compassion Week provides LAUMC congregants and community members an opportunity to put our faith in action by performing acts of service. Compassion Week 2016 involved more than 2,000 volunteers addressing poverty, homelessness, education, hunger, the environment, and more.
  • UMCOR International Disaster Risk Reduction (Advance #3021952): This disaster risk reduction program is designed to prepare for and mitigate both death and economic loss and to facilitate community recovery following common natural disasters. The World Bank estimates that each $1 invested in risk management yields between $2 and $11 in benefits/cost savings in the event of a disaster.

Service Opportunities

  • Project WeHOPE: On December 22, LAUMC will host a Christmas dinner at Project WeHOPE. Those who sign up will facilitate dinner services, and share a holiday dinner with brothers and sisters who are working to end their homelessness. Project WeHOPE is a nonprofit organization in East Palo Alto that provides overnight shelter, food, financial literacy, and other services to clients in its transitional program. Dignity on Wheels, the mobile hygiene and outreach program, provides showers and laundry to people living in encampments, rotating shelters, and out of their vehicles. To sign up to help with the dinner, contact Jan McDaniel. Space is limited.
  • Hope’s Corner: Another option for serving our community as part of Advent Generosity is to volunteer with Hope’s Corner. Volunteers help prepare and serve meals, clean up, or check in shower guests. Visit the Hope’s Corner website for more information about volunteer opportunities and to sign up.

Pick up an Advent Generosity envelope in the Sanctuary, Creekside, or the church office starting November 20. When you choose not to buy an unnecessary gift or decide to forgo a Christmas related goodie, place the money you save in the envelope. Return your envelope to the church office or place it in the offering plate by Christmas Eve. Alternatively, you could make your Advent Generosity donation online. Also, please use the provided gift cards to let your family and friends know you have made a donation to Advent Generosity 2016 and/or have performed a service on their behalf.

This Christmas, choose a radical approach to giving, and your celebration of Christ’s birth. Together, let’s worship fully, give more, spend less, and love all through our Advent Generosity giving. If you have questions about Advent Generosity, please contact Valarie Arnesen.

Thanksgiving Eve Service, Nov. 23

Thanksgiving Food AltarThe Thanksgiving Eve service, held this year on November 23 at 7:30pm in the Sanctuary, is one of the most heartwarming services of the year. Our two youth choirs, Lightshine and Starfire Singers, lead us in worship through song. Pastor Dirk Damonte will share the message. Please bring nonperishable foods and/or men’s or women’s knit caps, socks, scarves, and gloves. The collected food and clothing will be donated to Community Services Agency.

November Outreach Connection: Salinas First UMC

The focus for this month’s Outreach Connection is Salinas First United Methodist Church, a longtime partner of Los Altos UMC. The Salinas church’s Neighborhood Ministry serves breakfast and lunch six days a week to more than 100 homeless and hungry people in Salinas Salinas Outreach Connectionas well as providing a safe, inviting place for the homeless to gather during the day, clothes closet, weekly mobile health clinic, support groups for veterans and those with addictions, job counseling, and more. At our services on Sunday, November 13, we will get to watch a new video updating us on this program.

Under the direction of head pastor Steve Lundin, the mission of FUMC Salinas is to “put love into action and live our faith.” Please put your love into action and give generously to this Outreach Connection partner, which is truly acting on Jesus’ admonition to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger as if they were Jesus himself. If you would like to contribute to this ministry, you can donate online or by check made payable to LAUMC with “Salinas” in the memo line.

The Outreach Team at LAUMC organizes special monthly collections for outreach organizations 10 times per year. Each month the congregation learns about the highlighted organization and how it addresses the basic needs of people in our community, nationally, or internationally. A special donation is taken one Sunday, usually the second Sunday of the month, but donations designated to Outreach Connection are accepted throughout the month.

LAUMC Team Joins San Jose Walk to End Alzheimer’s

2015 Alz Team Photo low quality webThe LAUMC Walk to End Alzheimer’s Team has a lot of news this year! The LAUMC Team has switched from participating in the San Francisco Walk to the San Jose Walk and joined LAUMC’s Compassion Week in the process. The Team also has a special focus on caregivers.

The San Jose Walk is on Saturday, October 8, at 9:30am. The Walk is a great activity for all ages. There will be a huge children’s play area, including a bounce house, face painting, jungle gym, and other fun activities—maybe even a visit from Sharkie, the San Jose Sharks mascot! Even if you can’t walk with the Team, you can still sign on as a show of support.

Since the San Jose Walk falls during LAUMC’s Compassion Week, the Walk Team has partnered with Compassion Week! If you volunteer to help the Team or do the Walk, your participation will count toward Compassion Week’s volunteer total. Go to the team page to join the team and/or donate.

This year, in addition to supporting those with Alzheimer’s disease, the LAUMC Team is raising up caregivers: the spouses, children, relatives, and friends who care for loved ones with this disease.

Let the end of Alzheimer’s start with you. Help us to achieve our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease.

Report on Pack-a-Back Drive

pack-a-back-drive-backpacksIn July the Outreach Team and the Children’s Center held a drive to gather school supplies and backpacks for the Sacred Heart Community Service Pack-a-Back Drive. Together, we collected:

  • 14 full backpacks
  • 49 empty backpacks
  • $230 in gift cards for shoes
  • 15 scientific calculators
  • Numerous boxes of crayons, pencils, paper, glue, scissors, and more

This amounts to more than two complete classrooms of students who started this school year prepared to learn! Thank you for your generosity. This year, we were part of an effort to deliver a record 3,088 backpacks to K–12 children whose parents could not afford to purchase all the necessary supplies to help them succeed.

Sacred Heart is one of the agencies that our congregation supports with volunteers and funds. If you are interested in helping Sacred Heart in its efforts to eradicate poverty in Silicon Valley, sign up to volunteer during Compassion Week.

September Outreach Connection: Project WeHOPE

Dignity on Wheels shower trailerThis month, our featured Outreach Connection agency is Project WeHOPE. Project WeHOPE started as a homeless shelter in East Palo Alto in the winter of 2009. Since then, the organization has grown its scope of service to include job training, transition to permanent housing, and mobile shower units. Pastor Paul Bains, the founder of Project WeHOPE, describes its mission as helping the homeless and those at risk in rebuilding their lives through services that are customized to the needs of each client.

An Outreach Connection offering will be taken for Project WeHOPE on Sunday, September 18, at all services. You may give in person or online. Pastor Bains will also be the guest preacher at the evening Creekside Crossings service that Sunday, and all are invited to attend. We have also partnered with Project WeHOPE to offer several service opportunities at the agency during this year’s Compassion Week.

August Outreach Connection: Hope’s Corner

Our featured Outreach Connection agency this month is Hope’s Corner, Inc. People in our community are hungry. Even if employed, people earning minimum wage cannot afford both rent and food. In addition, people who are unhoused need a place to feel welcomed. Hope’s Corner, Inc., addresses these needs every Saturday by providing a nutritious breakfast and bag lunch. Hope’s Corner now serves 250 breakfasts per week on average. The organization also offers free showers and recently expanded the shower program to be open on Thursday mornings as well as Saturday mornings. On Thursdays, Community Services Agency has a social worker on site to help connect guests with the services they need.

On Sunday, August 14, Hope’s Corner board member Kevin Thompson will speak at the morning services and board President Leslie Carmichael will speak at the evening service with updates about what Hope’s Corner offers. You will find donation boxes outside the entrances to the Sanctuary and Creekside. Please give generosity to this growing program.

Fill a Backpack, Fulfill a Dream

girl with pack squareMany families in Silicon Valley are struggling to make ends meet. Often families have to choose between paying for basics like food and utilities and buying school supplies for their children—yet a good education can be their path out of poverty. When children arrive at school without the school supplies critical to their success, they are already behind their classmates.

Sacred Heart Community Service, an agency LAUMC has supported for several years, wants to ensure that children of struggling families don’t miss out on a quality education. A large component of Sacred Heart’s dedication to helping children succeed is its annual Pack-a-Back drive. This year the goal is to send 3,300 K-12 children to school with a new backpack filled with grade-appropriate supplies. Help change lives by donating school supplies and backpacks for distribution to local students. Bring donations to the red barrels in the church sanctuary on July 24 and 31. Visit Sacred Heart’s website for more information about the drive, including a list of requested supplies and a form for online financial donations. Together, we can change a child’s life!

Most-needed items:

  • New backpacks (not red or blue)
  • Scientific calculators
  • Safety scissors
  • $20 shoe gift cards (to any store where shoes are sold)

Outreach Connection: Community Services Agency, June 12

Our Outreach focus and offering this month is Community Services Agency (CSA). Harvey Dixon, former president of CSA’s Board and a long-time member of LAUMC, will speak at our morning worship services on June 12 regarding CSA’s programs. CSA provides vital social services for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills, from young, working poor families to elderly persons. The agency provides a safety net so independence and self-sufficiency can be maintained through Emergency Assistance, Senior Assistance Services, and Services for the Homeless.

LAUMC has long been a generous supporter of CSA, and we hope you will give generously. Collection boxes will be set out at church on June 12, or you can give throughout the month by writing a check to LAUMC with “CSA” on the memo line or using our online giving platform.

UMCOR Sunday Offering, May 29

This month we will take part in a special UMCOR Sunday offering, laying the foundation for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to continue its ministry of relief and hope.

UMCOR Sunday, formerly known as One Great Hour of Sharing, is a denomination-wide offering that, along with other undesignated gifts made throughout the year, covers UMCOR’s costs of doing business. This makes it possible for UMCOR to use 100% of all designated contributions on the many relief efforts it fulfills around the globe, instead of on administrative or fundraising costs.

UMCOR does not receive United Methodist World Service or apportionment funds, so without your offerings, UMCOR would not exist. Among its many current aid projects, UMCOR is helping in recovery efforts from the devastating April earthquake in Ecuador, providing emergency food kits and water purification filters; providing assistance to displaced Syrians, both within Syria and to those who have fled to Europe; and in drought-stricken Cambodia, offering local farmers climate-oriented food security technical training that focuses on how to adapt to a changing climate pattern.

Through the UMCOR Sunday special offering, we have an opportunity to touch the lives of those in need across the globe. Please give generously on May 29.