Outreach Commission

Overview
One of the most valuable and important missions of St. Mary’s Church is its community and international outreach activities which have been in existence for most of the church’s history. Funding comes primarily from proceeds received annually from Penny Wise and other donations that are designated for Outreach. The Outreach Commission is charged with considering all requests for assistance that are brought to them and which meet the guidelines established by the Commission and the Vestry. The primary focus is on meeting local needs with some international assistance provided as the need arises. After appropriate due diligence, the Commission makes funding allocation recommendations to the Vestry who has final approval for all grants.

Grant Process & Recipients
The grant process requires that an organization submit its financial documents, mission statement, evidence of tax- exempt status and explanation of how they plan to use our grant. The Commission reviews the requests and determines how much money will be granted each year and is contingent on availability of funds. In 2019 the following organizations received a grant: Café of Life, Freedom & Virtue Institute, Harvest Time Ministries, Life Giving Water, Literacy Council of Gulf Coast, Love, Inc, Meals on Wheels Bonita, New Horizons, Our Mothers Home of SWFL, After the Rain, Guardian ad Litem, India Schools, Good Samaritan Children’s Shelter in the Dominican Republic. The Commission also provided support for two St. Mary’s seminarians and a donation for the Bahamas hurricane disaster.

Other Activities
New Horizons After School Program – This faith-based program, a joint effort between New Horizons of SWF and St. Mary’s, was initiated in August 2019 and has been very successful. St Mary’s was added as a site for their Super Kids Club. There are nearly 40 K-5 children who come after school from 3:30 to 5:30, Monday- Thursday. Volunteer tutors help children with their homework, reading skills, and encourage them to succeed in school. An intense summer reading camp will be added in 2020.
Harvest Time Ministries – During the months of November through March volunteers meet every other Friday at a local storage site and prepare 125 bags of groceries for two local migrant farm communities. On Saturday mornings the groceries and donated baked goods from Publix as well as donated clothing and household goods are distributed to these local communities.
Kindness for Kids – In partnership with the Episcopal Church Women the Commission oversees the annual Christmas gift program for the children who reside at two migrant farm communities served by Harvest Time Ministries. Each child receives a small gift of their choice, an outfit and underwear and socks. The parish members purchase the gifts and a team of volunteers bags them and delivers them to the children a week before Christmas. In 2019 161 children received a gift.
Food Drives – Two annual food drives are held each year. In March, the Café of Life receives the food and in November, Harvest Time Ministries is the recipient. Over 100 bags of groceries were donated at each drive in 2019.
Other activities – An “Undie Sunday” is held each year to collect underwear and socks for the Kindness for Kids recipients as part of the Christmas Gift Program; annual drive to provide sponsorships for the children of the Good Samaritan Children’s Shelter in the Dominican Republic; annual India Schools appeal; Outreach Partner Fair held in October to showcase the recipients of our grants.

The Commission is constantly in need of volunteers who would like to participate in one or more of the group’s activities. Contact Judy Hall, Outreach Commission Chair. Jhall3544@gmail.com