More than 250 Synod volunteers piled into buses and vans early on June 25 and marked the actual date of the UCC's 50th anniversary by participating in a variety of service projects across the city of Hartford.
Enthusiasm was amazing, especially given the early morning departure time and the generally intense schedule that left most delegates longing for less commitments, not more.
But low energy didn't dampen the spirits of these volunteers, who packed about 400 bags of "teacher thank-you" supplies, including donations delivered and brought to Hartford by Synod delegates and visitors.
Ironically, on the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Sheff v O'Neill, a parent's fight to win equal education under the Connecticut Constitution, a case inspired by a UCC member. Underfunded Hartford schools are often lamented as part of "the poorest city in the nation's wealthiest state."
Other UCC volunteer groups painted rooms at Peter's Retreat, a residence house for persons with HIV/AIDS; weeded gardens at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and the Food Share gardens; packed food boxes at the Regional Food Bank; and prepared a home for rehab in a Neighborhood Initiative project.
The Red Cross operated a two-day blood drive at Synod, which attracted so many would-be volunteers that some donors were turned away.
The Rev. Mary Schaller-Blaufuss, UCC executive for volunteer ministries, organized the volunteers and coordinated the transportation, with the help of many Connecticut volunteers.