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CEC Outreach News: December 16, 2021

Immense Gratitude for a Memorable 2021 Angel Tree Drive

As you can see from the above photo and the rest of them on our Outreach Blog, The 2021 Angel Tree drive will be memorable for each of the 12 children whose Christmas wishes are being fulfilled, for their families, and for all the helpers who have made it happen. We focused our support on a group of 11- and 12-year-olds to meet a need identified by the Howard County (Central Maryland) division of The Salvation Army, the Angel Tree sponsor.

Generous parishioners took all 48 slots during the hybrid sign-up process, purchasing gifts that included some big items, such as a desk and a skateboard, some costly ones, such as tablets, and some smaller requests, such as puzzles and socks. The logistics of matching parishioners to their “angels” went smoothly thanks to Matt and Sarah Gately, Michon Semon, and Jane Adams, among others. Once again, Outreach Commission member Melanie Yaksich led the drive and, with the help of husband Nick Yaksich and family friends, delivered the gifts on Dec. 13 to a warehouse space set up by the Salvation Army. There its staff and volunteers were engaged in a massive effort to prepare for a Dec. 15 distribution (see photos). From the Outreach Commission to all who took part, thanks for brightening Christmas for families in need.

Tornado Disaster Aid Goes to Episcopal Relief and Development

After tornadoes swept the mid-Mississippi Valley on Dec. 10, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) announced that it has begun taking steps to relieve suffering and help in recovery. “Please help us work with the local partners and dioceses in need of our assistance to provide relief and support,” ERD implored on its latest disaster relief page, saying the tornadoes were “the most powerful we’ve seen in a decade, shredding community infrastructure, killing at least 90 people and leaving thousands without their homes.”

On behalf of Christ Church parishioners, members of the Outreach Commission voted on Monday to contribute $1,000 to ERD to assist in relief efforts. These are Vestry-approved funds derived from your pledges and contributions. Heartfelt thanks go out to one and all who make possible such a timely response.

In a time of climate change, the need for funds to address natural disasters in 2021 has far exceeded that in recent years. On your behalf, the Outreach Commission sent $1,000 in September in the wake of Hurricane Ida damaging a wide swath of the United States and $1,000 in August to ERD to help Haitians who suffered through an earthquake followed by Tropical Storm Grace. In February, we donated $675 to ERD to help people who are coping with the aftermath of extreme weather in Texas and the surrounding states.

Besides sharing the word of the donations, we ask for your prayers. Once again, please pray for people who have been harmed during all of these storms as well as those who are freshly mourning lives lost during the tornadoes.

If you wish to donate personally, go online to ERD’s plea, “Please help: Thousands lost everything they had.” Or those who prefer writing a check to ERD should put “Tornado Relief” on the memo line. Mail it to ERD, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

Columbia Community Care Holds Successful Toy Drive, Plans Holiday Break

From gloves and books to dolls and marshmallow treats, the 2021 toy drive was a success. The Christ Church volunteer contact, Violet Smith, took our donated items on Dec. 11 for distribution by Columbia Community Care (CCC) to families of children ages 2 to 12. We were joined by many other supporters in Howard County. CCC organizer Sue Sharff Castonguay posted, “We were able to give out over 1,500 toys and gifts today! Wow. So much JOY!”

The all-volunteer organization is taking a holiday break and changing some details of its regular operations as winter arrives. For one last time in 2021, it will be open on Saturday, Dec. 18 at three sites: Oakland Mills Middle School (OMMS), 9540 Kilimanjaro Road, at Long Reach Village Center, Suite 9, 8775 Cloudleap Ct., and at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10431 Twin Rivers Rd., all in Columbia. Saturday hours are 10 am to noon for recipients. Volunteers and donation drop-off begin at 9 a.m.

On two Wednesdays, Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, CCC will hold evening hours, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the three regular site locations. Volunteers and donation drop-off begin at 4:30 p.m. All sites are closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day: Saturday, Dec. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 1.

Starting on Saturday, Jan. 8, the Wilde Lake site will move indoors at the Interfaith Center. The OMMS site will relocate to the Barn/Teen Center indoor space in the Oakland Mills Village Center, 5851 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia. There are no changes for Long Reach. Saturday hours remain the same, and there are no Wednesday hours.

At Christ Church, members of R.A.G.E and the Outreach Commission ask parishioners to continue supporting CCC by collecting diapers, baby wipes, sanitary and personal care items, and adult diapers. Please put any of these items in the yellow bin, marked “CCC,” inside the Parish Hall. You can drop off items on weekdays when the church office is open or on Sunday.

Be Part of The Long Welcome: Donations Needed for our Refugee Family

Under our Good Neighbor Partnership with Lutheran Social Services, Christ Church’s Refugee Ministry will soon be settling an Afghan refugee family into their own residence. Items needed for setting up and maintaining the home can be found in this Signup Genius link, where you can sign up to donate items and gift cards. You may also scan the QR Code that’s in the Narthex, and it'll take you to the donation form.

Once you’ve purchased items, you can drop them at the church on Sunday mornings (in the New Brick nursery) or at the church office (we will place a bin in the entryway, marked “RESETTLE”) during normal office hours. NOTE: All donated items must be in new or like-new condition. Additionally, we are not currently accepting donations other than those on the sign-up list. Please stay tuned for additional needs as they arise.

If you prefer to make a financial contribution to help support the family, you may send a check to Christ Church marked “Refugee Ministry,” or donate online. Please speak with Deacon Denise or Jan DeBoissiere, or email us at if you have any questions. Thank you for being part of this important ministry!

Lake Elkhorn Middle School Update

We have been in contact with Principal Melissa Shindel and she is so grateful for all that Christ Church has done over the last year (i.e., money for field trips and staff shirts, food for families in need, school supplies) and she welcomes our support in the future.

That support may be a bit different this year as food for families is being handled through the county. Furthermore, because of the inability to go on trips due to the pandemic, there is money left in the field trip budget for this year.

However, Melissa is hoping that we will be able to assist with parent workshops that will be held over the school year in the evenings. The school is partnering with the Council of Elders whose mission is to support the Black community. They are hoping to present workshops on specific topics relevant to families that struggle. Melissa would love it if we could provide Grab and Go dinners (due to COVID restrictions) for those meetings, and projects that there will be about 30 people attending.

We will be in touch with you once we have definite dates for these workshops after the winter break. Melissa may discover that there are other ways that we can help as the school year progresses. There is no doubt that this is a severely under-resourced school and our help is crucial to provide these children with an equitable school experience.

Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions, by emailing us at We look forward to working with you over this school year. ~Mary Vail and Cathy Whittaker, Co-chairs of the Lake Elkhorn Middle School Committee

Donate Snacks, Crackers, and Cookies to FISH in Bin on our Breezeway

During the holidays, organizers for FISH of Howard County are making a more festive request than the previous one. Cookies, crackers, and snacks are what’s needed at the pantry to fulfill shopping lists. They also say thanks to Christ Church for its response to their earlier needs, which produced an adequate inventory of household cleaning supplies and personal items. The bin is between Old Brick and the Parish Hall.

In general, if you have suggestions about ways to help the community, if you want to get involved, or if you need assistance, please email Christ Church Outreach at Your help is greatly welcomed and appreciated. Thank you.


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