Jesus taught that we are all called to love our neighbors, and “loving our neighbor” goes beyond our immediate neighborhood. Our “neighbors” are all of our brothers and sisters – all of humankind – throughout the world. In our own community, there are many persons who are experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, or other forms of poverty or marginalization. Sometimes, in our busy daily lives, it is difficult for us to recognize the needs of others in our community.
The TAO Social Ministry Committee is organizing a small gift distribution for our brothers and sisters who are experiencing homelessness in the St. Cloud community. We plan to offer a gift bag to those persons who receive daily meals at Lake George, or who seek warmth in a local shelter. Our goal is to offer them a holiday greeting, to convey our concern for them, and to assure them of God’s love.
We invite parishioners to participate by preparing one or more gift bags and joining us in sharing them at one of three sites. Each site has a coordinator who will ensure that enough bags are prepared for that location. The sites are:
Parking lot between the veterans’ memorial and the public restrooms at Lake George, from 2-3 p.m., coordinated by Mari Walker, phone or text 253-6162;
New warming shelter in east St. Cloud from 3:30 – 4 p.m., coordinated by Kathy Peterson at 253-7548;
Behind the Somali café at 119 St. Germain St. from 5 – 5:30 p.m., coordinated by Janet Reigstad at 249-1293, or e-mail email@example.com
Distribution is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 21, with backup date on Tuesday, Dec. 22 in case of inclement weather.
We suggest the following items for each gift bag: three clementines (“halos” – easy to peel and to eat), ½ dozen homemade cookies, hand and foot warmers, and a Christmas card with a handwritten message. The bag can be a simple brown lunch bag, decorated with stickers or a Christmas symbol; and a card can be homemade with a written message. Families are encouraged to have children help prepare one or more gift bag by making Christmas cards and decorating bags; and to join in the distribution process (all per Covid 19 guidelines). In addition, the Christian women from St. Paul’s are contributing socks for distribution with the gift bags.
If you are able to contribute one or more assembled bags, please contact one of the coordinators to let them know how many bags you are assembling, and whether you will help with distribution. Bags will be collected on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19 and 20, at each parish. Call a site coordinator if you have any questions.
Thank you for your help as we reach out to our neighbors this Christmas season.