Since 2010, Houston area churches have provided an alternative to frenzied Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Continuing this tradition, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC), Beacon of Light Christian Center, St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, St. Francis Episcopal Church, West University Baptist Church, Crosspoint Church and The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church, are each scheduling community service projects on Friday, November 28. Also, this year the Christian community in Seattle can join parishioners from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church who will be helping the homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle food bank. These churches ask families and individuals to celebrate Bless Friday® as an alternative to Black Friday.
A family-friendly activity at MDPC will connect its congregation to wounded warriors in Germany. Volunteers will make no-sew fleece pillows for wounded servicemen and woman being treated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The pillows will be gathered on the church on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and shipped to the Chaplain's Closet at the base.
West University Baptist Church and Crosspoint Church, both located in Houston, will join Bless Friday this year. They will unite in blessing a local medical clinic ministry, Casa el Buen Samaritano, by supporting its annual Christmas tradition of delivering cookies to patients and their families.
Again this year Bless Friday will operate a post in the plaza at City Centre, a mixed-use development in west Houston. Last year some people drove 60 miles to help assemble bags designed to bless the homeless. The post provides a respite from shopping for City Centre patrons and a way to honor Christ with service. Passersby are invited to take one of the bags to keep in their cars and hand out to the homeless. Pastor Brandon Gaide states, "We want to provide a positive counterpoint to a day devoted to over-hyped consumerism."
Beacon of Light Christian Center plans to walk through the community, passing out much needed produce. Unfortunately fresh fruits and vegetables are not always part of the daily meals for many families in their part of town. Pastor Anthony Gasery states, "We are using the day to address the physical and spiritual needs of our community."
Some of the other activities planned around the city include: serving lunch at Star of Hope homeless shelter; prepping food, cleaning the facility and welcoming clients at The Beacon, a homeless shelter established by Christ Church Cathedral; preparing Vita Living's Spring Branch home for the intellectually challenged for Christmas; preparing shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts to be distributed by the International Seafarer's Mission; bagging rice and beans for food pantries; improving the physical condition surrounding churches; and picking up trash at Memorial Park.
Chuck Fox, founder of Bless Friday, adds, "The great thing about Bless Friday is that you don't need to participate in these planned activities. Any individual, family or group can identify a need and begin their Christmas season with service." The improved website, BlessFriday.org, provides specific help connecting Houston area people with service opportunities and gives concrete examples for people in other areas to imitate or modify.
Bless Friday® was founded in 2010 in Houston to change the way Americans celebrate Christmas.
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