LANSDALE -- Over the past 5 years, Gwynedd Square Presbyterian Church has dedicated a week in the spring and a week in fall to helping those in need within the local community by organizing hands-on service activities in partnership with local organizations.
There are also many other specific service opportunities planned throughout the year by the church, but the goal of “Mission Weeks” has been to offer a wide range of different options at one time and encourage everyone to get involved.
To make the event most accessible, there have been activities planned for all ages, for those who wished to volunteer in a group, or individually; from home, at the location of a community service organization or at the church; on a weekday, evening or weekend.
Volunteer events to assist those less fortunate have run the gamut, from helping to build homes with Habitat for Humanity, and constructing a “Gaga Pit” for recreational activities at the Indian Valley Boys & Girls Club, to sorting and packaging clothing and toiletry donations with the Mitzvah Circle Foundation, to assembling holiday gift bags for girls facing difficult challenges who are not able to be with their families for Christmas. While the activities have benefitted those in the broader community, to date the volunteers have generally been limited to members of Gwynedd Square Church.
This fall, however, two major changes are taking place:
- Due to COVID-19, Mission Week is taking on a new “virtual format” whereby all volunteer activities can take place either individually or in one’s own home, and with socially distanced or contactless receipt of donations.
- Participation in Mission Week service opportunities is being opened up to the broader area community.
The latter change is also in part related to COVID-19, as its impact has greatly increased local needs and challenged the ability of community service organizations to keep up. One of the organizations supported, Caring for Friends, has coordinated the preparation and delivery of meals to the frail homebound in the five-county greater Philadelphia area for over 45 years. In 2019, an average of 1,400 meals were delivered per week, which swelled to over 5,000 meals per week this spring due to the health and economic impact of the pandemic. Opening Mission Week up to the broader community is aimed at bringing more people together “virtually” to help with solutions to larger issues now being faced.
Virtual Mission Week will be held between November 1-7. Opportunities are available to support one of six local organizations as described in brief below. If you would like to help, please contact Ralph Insinga (email@example.com) or the church website, www.gwyneddsquare.org for further details.
Organizations and activities:
- Caring for Friends -- prepare and package meals for the frail homebound at your home
- Gemma Services -- decorate and fill Christmas gifts bags for children facing emotional or behavioral challenges, often due to trauma such as abuse, neglect or addiction.
- Hope Prison Ministries -- collection of gently used clothing for men, women and children.
- Indian Valley Boys & Girls Club - donation of items for snack bags and other supplies for children in need.
- Keystone Opportunity Center -- purchase and bag breakfast/lunch, personal care, or cleaning supply kits for needy families.
- Manna on Main Street -- food drive to collect items for making dinner for the hungry.