We just finished compiling December’s reports from volunteer teams in the Beyond Belief Network (BBN)! Holiday season provided a great opportunity to give back to the most vulnerable members of teams’ communities, especially people experiencing homelessness, disability, and domestic violence.
Please join us celebrating their work!
For December’s Team of the Month, we’re welcoming back past BBN team Houston Freethought Oasis! In December, this group organized a volunteer event for Houston Food Bank. COVID-19 had reduced the number of volunteers who were able to participate, but all things considered, the team reports a good turnout and positive impact in their community!
Thanks to an amazing fundraising campaign, Austin AHH was able to give out 240 sets of winter hats, thermal socks, and gloves as part of their monthly giveaway to people experiencing homelessness! Extra hands were needed to handle so many items in a timely fashion and rain slowed things down a bit, but the team thinks they pulled through admirably.
Austin AHH is currently serving two encampments every month, with one in particular rising in population. There was quite a bit of interest in winter items, particularly thermal socks. Volunteers also made a special trip to grab sleeping bags for several community members that were in immediate need.
Picture of the Month (above) comes from Austin AHH’s bag-packing event for this giveaway, wherein volunteers pre-packed goods in order to hand them out in a pandemic-safe manner. Thanks from from the group go out to their 100+ donors plus partners at the Atheist Community of Austin, the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas, and I Support the Girls – Austin.
(Read more on Austin AHH’s blog.)
Atheist Community of Polk County participated in a whopping ten service events in December! This included:
- Seven giveaways with Street Warriors, a charity that distributes essentials to people experiencing homelessness in multiple locations. Altogether, the team prepared, packaged, and served 177 hot meals this month, plus several dozen essentials such as jackets, sleeping bags, socks, tents, masks, and hygiene supplies!
- Assembling 25 packs of food, which were delivered to a local elementary school for students experiencing food insecurity.
- Producing the Dec. 12th Holiday Cheer Stream-a-Thon fundraiser benefitting FBB! The team raised over $1,300 during the broadcast, which featured 37 presenters from the nonreligious community. (Check it out on YouTube.) The team reports they already have ideas on how to make the event even better next year. We’re delighted and immensely grateful for all their hard work!)
Atheists United (AU)
AU met weekly through December to continue an ongoing service commitment with Audio Information Network of Colorado, which records readings of printed materials for people with visual impairments. Team members made recordings of flyers and ads — a process that takes about 2.5 hours each session. This includes finding, reading, editing, verifying, and uploading the recordings for a weekly podcast.
Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT)
We can always “COUNT” on this team to reliably fulfill commitments they’ve made to three local causes each month:
- Van Buren Center: this local shelter provides housing and meals to families and women experiencing homelessness in Central Ohio. This month, volunteers prepared food, wearing COUNT-branded aprons and name tags to raise awareness that they are non-theists doing charity.
- Adaptive Sports Connection: this chapter of Disabled Sports USA helps Ohio veterans, children, and adults who need adaptive equipment or instruction to participate in sports including skiing, kayaking and cycling. COUNT volunteers help assess students, select equipment, and help with sports lessons. This month they attended a virtual “dry land” training and learned about new COVID-related precautions.
- Ronald McDonald House: this charity provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at area hospitals. COUNT volunteers work with guests to provide a home-like environment. This includes greeting and helping with things like attending to family needs, phones, tours, checking folks in and out, room preparation, cleaning, and front desk work. COUNT gave team gave 12.82 hours this month to RHM.
These windy city humanists hosted a collection drive for their local women’s and children’s shelter. The shelter provided a wish list of items, which they passed around to local communities. Altogether they collected about 40 items for the shelter including paper towels, blankets, and cleaning supplies. The team reports it was a great way to close out the year!
For the 7th consecutive year, PPA collected items for a Holiday Shoppe run by TESSA, which empowers victims of partner and sexual violence. The Holiday Shoppe helps more than 100 families annually, providing the opportunity for TESSA’s adult and child clients to exchange free pre-wrapped holiday gifts as they work to build lives of safety and self-sufficiency.
PPA volunteers collected 125 items — a little less than average, but a number they though was good considering the pandemic. So far, they’ve donated 1,200 items to the Holiday Shoppe over the last 6 years. The team reports they were excited to show the community what “Being Good without God” looks like!
This is just a sample of the hard work of BBN teams put in every month to repair damages caused by inequality and environmental neglect. Starting in 2021, we want to turbo-charge BBN teams, helping them expand their impact and organize against the causes of inequities in their communities. It’s an ambitious goal, and we’re counting on you to make it happen. When you have a moment, please chip in a little to FBB here.