Like many congregations around the United Church of Christ, Niles Discovery Church in Fremont, Calif., collected school supplies for children in August. It's an annual ministry which embodies the UCC 3 Great Loves initiative. A tangible expression of love of children, it also makes going back to class a lot easier for a lot of kids in their community.
"The vast majority of the social service agencies for Fremont, Newark, and Union City are all under one roof, the Family Resource Center," explained senior pastor, the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer. "So we give the school supplies we collect to the FRC and they get them into the hands of the children who need them."
This year, the congregation, which has an average Sunday attendance of about 75, collected and donated 76 backpacks, 21 lunchboxes, 2 boxes of binder paper and spiral notebooks, 49 dozen pens and pencils, a bag of glue and hundreds of glue sticks, crayons, markers and colored pencils, several dozen erasers and other miscellaneous supplies.
"In past years when I've dropped our school supply collect off at the FRC, they've come out with a cart to transport them from my car to the supply closet," said Beth Armstrong, the coordinator of this year's collection. "This year when they knew I was from Niles Discovery Church, they came out with three carts. We've developed a bit of a reputation."
3 Great Loves is the UCC's denomination-wide story telling initiative. Stories about how UCC members, congregations and organizations are living out God's love by expressing love of neighbor, children and creation. From sharing school supplies to knitting clubs making hats for newborns; collecting food for food pantries; standing together against a social injustice. All of the local community ministries that live out the love of God and lead to creating a just world for all are part of 3 Great Loves.
Want to share your story? Use the link on the revamped 3 Great Loves Website, or tell your story on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #3greatloves in your posts.