What an incredible year it has been for the Beyond Belief Network! Last week, we announced the December winners for Team of the Month and Picture of the Month. Altogether, BBN teams reported 35 events and more than 1,500 hours of service in December! Here's what the rest of the BBN teams were up to:
The Atheist Community of San Jose continued with their regular volunteering at the 2nd Harvest Food Bank and helped label and pack 2,000 cans in December. Even though the food sorting happened the week before Christmas, attendance was good and the group even met a couple people from the Humanist Community of Silicon Valley who may join up with the Atheist Community of San Jose at future volunteering events. That's what BBN is all about!
BE. Orlando collaborated with the Central Florida Freethought Community (also a BBN team) to host a blood drive in the parking lot of a local Target, a convenient location since the event was also a STEM toy drive for holiday gift donations. Later in the month, the group got together to sort the gifts they had collected at the STEM drive and over the course of the month. The toys went to the 23 children currently in residence at the SafeHouse of Seminole domestic violence shelter as well as to the children of families who have moved from the shelter into transitional housing. BE. Orlando volunteers also served a meal at the shelter in December. Volunteers wore silly holiday attire and sang fun (nonreligious carols) with the children to bring cheer during a time that can be especially difficult for people experiencing separation and loss.
Twenty-eight Minnesota Atheist members (and also three religious family members) donated toys, books, games, art and craft supplies and various items for children spending Christmas at the Children's Hospital of St. Paul. Approximately $1700 in gifts were donated. Lunch was enjoyed, and then gift bags were packed with the gifts and delivered to the hospital. What a bunch of scrooges! Minnesota Atheists also continued their regular service events in support of local residents in need. Eleven Minnesota Atheist members purchased ingredients to make breakfast for dinner. It was a huge hit with the 14 children and 7 adults who are guests of Family Place, a day shelter assisting families to find a home of their own. Nine Minnesota Atheist volunteers sorted and packed canned and dried goods into various categories at The Food Group. These items will be distributed for free to people visiting food shelves in the metro area of Minneapolis. 2,430 pounds of food was packed, or enough for 2,025 meals. Each person packed an average of 225 meals per person.
South Texas Atheists for Reason volunteers helped remove invasive species and resurface trails as part of the San Antonio River Authority's Headwaters Clean Up project. At the December giveaway for residents in need, STAR members handed out hygiene supplies and weather-appropriate clothing items. In collaboration with the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, STAR continued to provide humanist chaplains to lead discussions for trainees at Lackland Air Force Base, and Bart Campolo was also a special guest in December. Interest in these discussions remained high, with an average attendance of 1,000 each week to discuss topics like the Separation of Church and State, handling grief and stress, the history of winter holidays, and the rise of the nones.
Atheist Community of Colorado Springs (ACCS) is a new BBN team, but the group is not new to meaningful service! ACCS has a well-established biweekly crafts group that knits and crochets thousands of plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. The group donates the mats and other high-need items to a local charity, Street Supplies Inc.
For the second year, Humanist Community of the Space Coast teamed up with a nonprofit shelter called the Children's Home Society to help them with their toy drive. Volunteers coordinated the donation of over $3000 dollars worth of toys and presents, with about 30 humanist community members making the trek to stores to fulfill wish lists.
The Fellowship of Freethought Dallas created a digital giving tree to provide gifts for the children of a few of its families in need. Fifty gifts were provided to six families. One of the families also received winter coats. In December, Fellowship of Freethought also continued with its monthly meal service at the AIDS Services of Dallas Supper Club, an organization that provides medically supportive housing to low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Pikes Peak Atheists and Pikes Peak Atheist Families collected gift cards for teens at the Court Appointed Special Advocates year-end holiday gift-giving event. The group collected $590 worth of gift cards. Pikes Peak Atheists ran two other year-end charity drives, one for toys for local children in need, and one for the animals at the Black Forest Animal Sanctuary where Pikes Peak Atheists consistently volunteer.
Sunday Assembly Los Angeles captured the December Picture of the Month while delivering gifts to one of the three families it adopted through the Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services. They also collected new toys on behalf of Children's Hospital LA, as they do every December, and this was the most generous people have been yet. A full carload of toys was collected!
Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) and the Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) are both members of the Columbus Coalition of Reason (CoR), and they team up once a month to volunteer at the Community Shelter Board facility in Columbus, Ohio. This was the thirteenth joint shelter event for the two groups, and there was good turnout considering the snowstorm that blanketed the area with 1-3 inches that day. To date, 62 Columbus CoR volunteers have worked 513.5 hours in 24 events with the Community Shelter Board, which provides housing and meals to homeless families and individual men and women in Central Ohio. In December, COUNT volunteers also worked as Housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Children's Hospitals and other area hospitals. Housewarmers work with guests to provide a home-like environment – greet, assist with family needs, answer phones, give tours, assist with check-in/check-out, prepare guest rooms after check-out, clean facilities, do laundry, re-stock supplies, and staff the front desk.
Eight Brevard Area Atheists volunteers cleaned up a mile section of Babcock road between Palm Bay and Crown Boulevard in December, covering both the sides of the road as well as the median.
Kol Hadash collected holiday gifts to provide to Community Alternatives Unlimited, which distributed the gifts to area children with developmental and mental disabilities.