The winter weather may have been cold, but our hearts are warmed when we hear about the awesome work our Beyond Belief Network teams have been doing!
The Beyond Belief Network program is sustained through a partnership between Foundation Beyond Belief and the Atheist Community of Austin (ACA).
We thank ACA for their generous support of our efforts.
February saw a new team joining the Beyond Belief Network – the Family & Friends Humanist Crew in Mundelein, Illinois! They held their first event, making handmade blankets for the Linus Project charity which were collected in February through JoAnn's craft store. They are given to children who are ill or traumatized so they have something to hold on to through hard times. The team is a smaller group right now, but had a wonderful time with this first event and made four blankets! We’re looking forward to more great work from them!
The Tri-State Freethinkers volunteered with the Freestore Foodbank in January and February, helping pack power pack lunches to be distributed to needy children in the tri-state area. They volunteered with Crayons to Computers, which provides assistance to schools and teachers with supplies, sorting through book donations. They also helped the Cincinnati Zoo with taking down the lights from the zoo's Festival of Lights event. The zoo uses over 200 million lights in their event!
Members of Center for Inquiry-Michigan spent a morning at Kids' Food Basket in early January, helping create sack suppers for some of the 8000 children served daily in west Michigan. Their roles included putting meat and sunflower seeds into baggies. Many people also took time to decorate paper sacks the dinners will go into for delivery to each school and student served. A little extra touch to make someone smile!
At events in December, January, and February, Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) volunteers returned to working as Housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald Charity House (RMH). RMH provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other area hospitals. Housewarmers work with guests to provide a home-like environment by greeting, assisting with family needs, answering phones, giving tours, assisting with checkin/checkout, preparing guest rooms after checkout, cleaning facility, doing laundry, restocking supplies, and staffing the front desk.
COUNT also kept busy this winter in continuing their work with The Adaptive Sports Connection (ASC), a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, which helps Ohio veterans, children, and adults who need adaptive equipment or instruction to participate in various sports including skiing, kayaking and cycling. “If I can do this, I can do anything!” is the Disabled Sports USA motto.
The Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) partnered with COUNT to volunteer at the Community Shelter Board (CSB) facility on Van Buren Drive in Columbus, Ohio each month this winter. CSB provides housing and meals to homeless families and individual men and women in central Ohio. Some volunteers serve dinners while others wash dishes, mop floors, and clean tables. Once the dishes were done, the volunteers adjourned to the Omnipresent Atheists (also part of Columbus CoR) meetup in progress for dinner, drinks and conversation.
COUNT and HCCO paired up again in January for a Bleed-N-Feed event where volunteers spent a total of nine hours donating nine units at the Carriage Place Red Cross Donor Center in Columbus, Ohio. Donors then become diners as they head to a nearby restaurant afterward to replenish. More events are planned for coming months.
Turning away from Ohio and looking at Florida, the Brevard Area Atheists had two Road Cleanup events this winter, one in December and one in February. In December, six volunteers picked up ten bags and 65 pounds of trash, getting a lot of happily honking cars driving by. And in February, eight people picked up 28 bags and 185 pounds of trash. Wow! That’s 250 pounds over the winter!
Also in Florida, BE Orlando held a STEM Holiday Toy Drive in December, bringing STEM-themed toys and books to at-risk youth in their community during the holidays. The drive is supported by other local non-faith groups as well as a local STEM charter school. They collected 371 toys this year!
And in January, BE Orlando continued their partnership with the Orlando Distaff Day. The fiber artist community contributed handmade warm items they've been working on all year as well as food for the pantry at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Attendees also filled out Positive Postcards for residents at the shelter.
Texas BBN Teams did a lot this winter too! Austin Humanists at Work held a donation drive and were able to collect 3,430 basic living items for the December Giveaway. The Gettin’ Knotty crafting group joined together for two social events to knit and crochet washcloths, hats and shower octopi for the giveaway as well, and on the morning of December 16, 50 ATXHAW volunteers gathered under a bridge in downtown Austin and set up a giveaway line. They had a lot of basic living items to give out to those in need, and were able to serve 196 fellow humans.
That same weekend, the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas (FACT) volunteered at Haven for Hope. They served over 400 meals to the residents, packed up over a thousand sandwiches, and began to prep the dinner trays for that night. Becky, the San Antonio Food Bank volunteer coordinator, always loves having them since they're experienced in the kitchen arena.
Each Sunday in January, South Texas Atheists for Reason held humanist services at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. The humanist services reached over 1200 trainees and 40 of their family members each week (one week there were 77 family members attending!) Topics discussed included death from a humanistic point of view, fallacies (hearing great examples from trainees of fallacies they’ve heard in their every day life as well as in basic training), and morals, and whether or not morals can change over time. There were lots of great answers from the trainees when asked where they get their morals!
Colorado saw some great work by two groups this winter! Pikes Peak Atheists & Pikes Peak Atheist Families held a donation drive for the TESSA Holiday Shoppe for victims of domestic violence, and participated in a volunteer day as well, helping TESSA guardian shop and wrap presents for their kids. They had more people wanting to volunteer than the event had slots for! They also came together in a call to action for a single mom and her five kids, gathering household necessities, furniture and clothes, and a family present for under the tree.
The Atheist Community of Colorado Springs put their crafting skills to good use in multiple events, getting together to knit and crochet hats and scarves to donate to local schools to be distributed to students in need, as well as saving plastic bags over the year and turning them into sleeping mats for homeless people, donated through a local charity along with other items, helping the environment as well as their local community.
In Minnesota, the Rochester Area FreeThinkers sponsors the "Young Skeptics" awards each year at the Rochester MN Regional Science Fair in February. The judging criteria includes the use of skeptical inquiry, critical thinking, and appropriate data analysis. Members of the group attend the judging session and chose the winners.
All the way across the globe, the Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) held several events. Since in the Philippines it’s quite hot during the day in December, HAPI members braved the heat to bring cool sweet treats to the students of Consolacion SPED Center. HAPI also coordinated with various local schools to gather pupils who are considered less fortunate, asking the teachers to have the kids personally write their wishes, then each volunteer for the project tapped into their circle of friends and colleagues who were willing to fulfill those simple and precious wishes. This event was part of an ongoing project of Random Acts of Kindness, the goals of which are to promote and cultivate the “Bacolod-style-of-kindness” in the community. And in January, they held their fourth installment of their monthly feeding event for persons with disabilities in Consolacion Cebu SPED Center. (Featured photo at top.) HAPI PWD Feeding is committed to show what goodness is without the concept of god.
All in all, our BBN teams have done great work this winter, and we’ll see even more from them as the weather warms up!