This Christmas season, Blair Road United Methodist Church is offering the Mint Hill community three ways to celebrate the true spirit of the season by giving to others in need.
One of the charities with which Blair Road is working this Christmas is Project Heifer, an organization that brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. One of the reasons Missions and Outreach Coordinator Alice Thomasson is proud to work with this organization in particular is that they empower people to lift themselves out of poverty instead of giving handouts.
“What sets them apart is that they don’t just give an animal or a group of animals to someone,” says Thomasson. “They involve a whole community. Each family passes on the offspring of whatever animals they get to someone in the village. They get trained in how to care for the animals, and they pass that on as well.”
Blair Road is hoping to raise $5000.00 this holiday season to gift an “ark” to a community in need. A “Gift Ark” donation includes two or more of animals like water buffalo, cows, sheep, goats, bees, chickens, and rabbits. The long term impact of this gift is truly immeasurable. Milk, eggs, honey and wool will provide the community not only with food but also with goods to sell. Furthermore, the “ark” will improve the lives of generations to come as breeding pairs of animals multiply.
During the advent season, children in Blair Road’s preschool and afterschool programs are collecting donations toward Project Heifer, which they’ll present as a special offering on Christmas Eve. “There’s a lot of learning that can go along with this funding!” says Thomasson, who says the children are encouraged to learn about animals, like how chickens provide both eggs and meat, for example.
Another cause that Blair Road is encouraging members to support this season is their Haiti Team. Blair Road UMC sends a group every January to work in two different locations. The first is St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, where Blair Road’s volunteers do construction and repair work. They also volunteer at Wings of Hope, a home for children and young adults with physical and mental challenges. “In Haiti, if you’re in a wheelchair or have a physical or mental disability, you’re ignored, you’re shunned,” says Thomasson. “They don’t have the same kind of care possibilities as we have in the United States.” At Wings of Hope, the disabled can receive occupational, physical and recreational therapy.
Money raised this Christmas season for the Haiti Mission will go toward both travel costs for the team and supplies for the projects they will undertake. Those who choose to donate toward the Haiti Team for Christmas can send a card to the person in whose name they are donating featuring a picture of some of the boys from St. Joseph’s on the benches they constructed last year.
The last cause that Blair Road is supporting this holiday season is hurricane relief. Donations will go to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which is helping rebuild areas affected by recent hurricanes. “The good thing is that 100% of whatever donations you give go directly to the communities in need,” says Thomasson, explaining that donations are not used to fund the administrative side of UMCOR.
For Thomasson, all three of these charitable initiatives are ways to share in the true spirit of the Christmas season. “We’re really called as Christians to think outside of ourselves,” she says, “and this is a way to share with people who really don’t have as much as we do.” Blair Road is encouraging church members to embrace these causes as an alternative way of giving this season. “There’s so many people that have so many things and don’t really need anything else,” says Thomasson. “It’s a way to be generous and look beyond yourself and your own needs and wants.” In lieu of a traditional gift, parishioners can send loved ones a card indicating that a donation has been made in their name.
Blair Road United Methodist Church will be collecting donations toward Project Hiefer, the Haiti Team and Hurricane Relief through Christmas Eve. Participating is as simple as bringing a check to the church office (make sure to note which organization you are donating to in the memo section). If you have questions or would like to arrange to donate in someone’s name with a card, contact Alice Thomasson at firstname.lastname@example.org.