Mission is the heart of Peoples Presbyterian Church. We seek to serve our neighbors–both in Milan and around the world–in any way we can! Here is an alphabetized list of some of the projects we have undertaken recently:
In 2018, we started a “Book Buddies” program, in which volunteers take shifts to read with second graders at Paddock Elementary School right across the street. Every Wednesday while school is in session, we get to hear stories as the kids practice reading out loud!
We started a new Easter tradition in 2019 by filling the plastic eggs at our egg hunt with plastic “bunny money.” We had one basket designated for a summer camp scholarship and one basket designated for “Books on Bikes,” and the kids used their plastic coins to vote for the charity they wanted to receive a donation. On behalf of the youth of Peoples, and at their request, we wrote a check to “Books on Bikes”!
Canopy on the Corner
On Halloween, we host a “canopy on the corner,” offering cookies and hot cider to trick-or-treaters and their parents!
Green Tape Sundays
We believe that there’s no “red tape” in helping to solve hunger in our community. On the first Sunday of each month, we push a shopping cart up the aisle to collect food. Giving food to Aid in Milan, a local food pantry, is just as much an offering as the money we place in the plates.
Hats for Cancer
Every year, we provide a fried chicken dinner for the homeless population served by Hill House in Ann Arbor. They are always excited to see us and it’s a great opportunity to get to know our neighbors!
During the Thanksgiving season, Peoples collects Thanksgiving Feast baskets to distribute through Aid in Milan. These baskets are filled with everything a family might need to celebrate the holiday with a bountiful meal. In 2019, we gave 10 turkey dinners.
Before Christmas, we partner with Aid in Milan to provide for both the needs and wants of local families, giving gifts of grocery store and gas cards, toys, clothes, food, and other holiday surprises. In 2019, we collected gifts for a family of four kids and two adults.
We want our community to feel welcome in our space, even if they do not worship with us. When school is meeting in-person, parents and guardians use our parking lot to safely park as they drop off and pick up students at Paddock Elementary School across the street. On Thursday nights during non-plague times, the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) meets to fence, craft, dance, and more in our Fellowship Hall and lounge. Before the pandemic began, we hosted the Bookworms book club on the first Wednesday night of most months. In 2019, we hosted 40 students and chaperones overnight as they travelled from New York state to the Triennium youth conference in Indiana.
Peoples supports an anti-bullying group at Milan High School. Students receive training on conflict resolution and actually meet with peer students when there is a problem. Our donations have funded speakers and workshops for the students in the program.
Peoples Helping People
As the days grew cold at the end of 2019, many of us collaborated in making warm and beautiful mittens out of recycled sweaters. It was a complicated process of selecting colors, cutting out and pinning each of four pieces needed for each mitten, stitching, and finishing, but in the end, we had thirty-one pairs to give to the families of homeless students at Paddock Elementary School, with gift cards tucked inside. We also made 25 fleece blankets for the school’s social worker to give to students during difficult conversations so that they can have something soft to hug. We’re already looking forward to our next project!
In partnership with other local churches, we help to offer hospitality to our local homeless population. Everyone is welcome for a delicious hot meal on Wednesdays at 5:30 at First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti! Once a month, we provide workers and a dessert for 60-80 guests.
Throughout the year, we often have special collections. At the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year, we collected school supplies for public school classrooms since low funding often means that teachers provide pencils, paper, art supplies, etc., out of their own pockets. Later in the fall, we celebrated “Socktober,” collecting men’s, women’s, and children’s socks for Aid in Milan.
Peoples Presbyterian Church participates in 3 major offerings for PCUSA:
- One Great Hour of Sharing in the spring is collected for those affected by natural disasters, for those affected by hunger, and for the poor and oppressed.
- The Pentecost Offering in the summer is collected for youth at risk.
- The Peace and Global Witness Offering is collected to help the Church’s fight against conflict and injustice around the world. Our percentage of the offering has often been given to Safe House in Ann Arbor for those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault.
Vacation Bible School
For our 2019 Vacation Bible School, we collected books for “Books on Bikes,” a local organization that brings books to kids over summer break to encourage them to keep reading and to give them access to materials if they don’t have easy access to a public library. We also collected $372.52 that will go towards a sound system–well over our goal of $250!!! The year before, during our 2018 Vacation Bible School, we collected shoes and a $115 donation for “Soles4Souls,” which has distributed 35 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries since 2006.
Weekend Food Program
Over Lent 2019, we collected food for the social worker at Paddock Elementary to send home over the weekend with students whose families are homeless. The school told us that because we helped get their food backpack program up and running, they were able to give food to seventeen kids for eleven weeks–over 1,230 meals! Children cannot learn or thrive if they don’t know where their next meal comes from, but sometimes, a free or reduced school lunch or breakfast during the week might be the only real meals they get.
Last year, the program was so successful that it is now overseen by Aid in Milan, who gather, pack, and deliver food to students at all four Milan school campuses!
We collected food for this program again over Lent 2020. If you are interested in taking part in this project, Aid in Milan is particularly asking for donations of canned tuna, canned corn, Chef Boyardee, fruit cups, individual serving size cereal, granola bars, and instant oatmeal.