From its beginning days, St. James Parish has been a caring community, people helping people, and that caring has continued to grow as the parish continues to grow.
The Social Outreach Committee provides opportunities for parishioners to put into action the Corporal Works of Mercy. Various activities allow you to give either one hour of your time or several days on a periodic basis.
- Volunteer (Food Distribution-First Fridays, Christ House Ministry, Falls Church Children’s Center, & Falls Church Homeless Shelter)
- Christmas Community Outreach (Adopt A Family, Gift Card Collection, calendars/note cards for women prisoners)
- Focus on Hunger (Christ House, Food for Others)
Our monthly, Friday evening Food Distribution serves needy families from 5:30-6:30pm, usually on the first Friday of the month. As part of this ministry, we also try to include a Christmas family celebration of the Nativity in December. Our coordinators, other adults, high school and supervised middle school students help set up, sort, pack and carry food and clean-up. We are typically in need of fluent Spanish-speaking individuals to help us with registration during each food distribution. Ideally, our Spanish speakers are also fluent in English. Currently, we have a need for an alternate driver with a large vehicle to pick up groceries from Safeway just prior to distribution. For more information on the Food Distribution program, please contact Amy Steinbicker, [email protected]. See the list of preferred food donations as of fall 2021 below.
The coordinators of Food Distribution are grateful for its founders: Janet Qualters (July 23, 1941 – September 22, 2020) and Gay Fantozzi (September 21, 1951 – January 25, 2021) for their work to develop and expand this ministry and inspire us to continue their work today.
Christ House Ministry
As part of the diocesan ministry that provides temporary housing to the homeless and a free evening meal to those in need, St. James provides and serves a complete dinner to men, women, and children on the second Wednesday of each month at Christ House in Alexandria. Volunteers are needed to cook and /or serve. This is an opportunity for parish groups to directly participate in serving those in need. Individuals are also welcome. Contact: Liz Goodson, 703-532-8407.
Falls Church Homeless Shelter
Saint James’ Social Outreach Committee provides support for the winter emergency Falls Church Homeless Shelter located at 217 Gordon Road in Falls Church. The shelter’s mission is to provide shelter, food, and counseling services for 12 adults in need during the winter season. This year the shelter will open from December 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023. Members of our parish serve on the board and volunteer their time to help the shelter.
How can you support the shelter? In addition to monetary support, parishioners can donate food, personal hygiene items, paper supplies, meals, and their time to work with our residents. Our website, www.fcshelter.org/, provides all the information regarding volunteer work and how to sign up for the different opportunities. This year, we have the option to donate your time and spend an evening at the shelter. Volunteers are needed on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:00pm-midnight and will be working hand in hand with the professional staff and the residents. The website also provides the opportunity to go to the Falls Church Homeless Shelter Amazon Wish list and order items to be delivered directly to the shelter. Thank you in advance for your help and volunteer services.
If you have questions, email Luis Frontera, [email protected], and put ‘FC Shelter’ in the subject line.
Falls Church Children’s Center
Parishioners contribute to the needs of the children at a local day care center through an annual collection. Children at the day care are from needy families. Contact: Pat Sober, 703-573-3432 or Lori Lisiecki, 703-532-5357.
Annually, St. James has a food and monetary collection in support of The Falls Church Community Service Council, Inc. (FCS). FCS established in 1969, is a coalition of churches and human service organizations in the greater Falls Church area. St. James Parish is a founding member.
The purpose of the FCS organization is to provide needed human services to poor and disadvantaged individuals and families in the Falls Church community. The assistance primarily is for short term and emergency needs with the overall mission of helping individuals and families achieve self sufficiency, an improved quality of life and avoid homelessness.
Advent Season Community Outreach
Once again, Catholic Charities and community homeless shelters have requested gift cards as the easiest way to assist families during the Advent season. This will apply to the refugee families and Food Distribution. In addition, “Adopt A Family” option will be available for Christmas.
The Social Outreach Committee is now collecting gift cards in the suggested amounts of $25 for Walmart, Target, Giant, and Safeway stores. The options for contributing to our Social Outreach Gift Card Project are:
· Donate $25 gift cards.
· Send a check so gift cards can be purchased by the Social Outreach Committee on your behalf.
- Make checks payable to Saint James.
- On the memo line, write SOC gift card donation.
Please place a card or check in an envelope marked Social Outreach Gift Card Project. Place the envelope in the collection basket, hand deliver to the Rectory Office, or mail the envelope to: Saint James Catholic Church, 905 Park Avenue, Falls Church VA 22046.
Thank you for your generosity in bringing joy to families during this difficult time of year. If you have any questions, email Susan Jackson, [email protected].
Christmas Community Outreach
Parishioners can provide much needed holiday cheer by sponsoring a specified family and ensuring they have gifts and a holiday meal for Christmas. Many of these families were previously homeless and needed to conserve their income for rent, food, and other necessities. Names of families in need are provided by social service agencies and by parish networks. Contact: Mary Ann Parker, 703-241-9128.
Seven Corners Children’s Center Christmas Drive
The center is a private, non-profit organization that partners with Fairfax County to provide childcare and pre-school for working families who require financial assistance. The children range in age from 2 to 5. We are asking for clothing in sizes 3T, 4T, 5T, 5, and 6/7 including:
- Shirts and pants
- Gloves, Hats and Scarves
- Winter Jackets
- Books, games and puzzles for ages 2 to 5
New this year: The Center has also asked for winter jackets and other clothing items in sizes 8 to 12 to allow parents to choose presents for older siblings. Items should be new and not wrapped. Please drop donations in the bins in the back of the Church by mid-December each year. Call or text Caroline Sparks, 703-862-2074, for more information.
Calendars and Note Cards
The Social Outreach Committee collects donated calendars, for the upcoming new year, in all sizes for the Kairo Project for Women Prisoners and for families enrolled in Food Distribution in November. No calendars with spiral metal binding.
Drop off the calendars in the food collection baskets at the Church entrances or box in the rectory office before Thanksgiving. Contact Angela Dinkle, [email protected], with any questions.
Focus on Hunger
Food for Others
Food For Others provides food to charitable organizations to restock their food pantries and to families referred to by churches, the county, and other organizations. It runs a daily food distribution outreach program to the community. Food For Others is seeking volunteers to assist in delivering food to two Falls Church sites every Wednesday and Friday of the month. The volunteer job takes approximately two hours once a month from 5:00pm-7:00pm. Volunteers pick up food at the FFO Merrifield warehouse and deliver the food to two sites in Falls Church. During the distribution process, volunteers work with 2-3 other individuals. There are volunteer opportunities both days through the month. Interested individuals can contact Kate Altmeyer at [email protected].
If you are home during the day and are looking for a volunteer activity, call Food for Others at 703-207-9173. Teenagers are also welcomed to volunteer after school or during vacation.
On the second Wednesday of each month, a distinct volunteer group from St. James prepares and/or serves a dinner at Christ House, the Diocesan soup kitchen in Alexandria. This is a unique hands-on-experience to directly help those in need. It is an opportunity for families with middle school through high school students to work together. This is also a great project for Scouts. If you would like to help with this parish effort, either in donating food or desserts, cooking the meal at Christ House and/or serving the meal at Christ House, please contact Liz Goodson at 703-532-8407. We are in need of volunteer groups or individuals.
Non-perishable foods may be left at the doors of the Church before weekend Masses throughout Lent. This food will help restock Food for Others and the Falls Church Community Service Council (FCS) Food Banks as well as contribute towards our own food distribution.