Our patron saint, St. Aidan of Northumbria focused on distributing to the poor royal gifts received from his king. He continuously extended invitations to the rich and poor by proclaiming the good news of the gospel. He continued to encourage both believers and non-believers to embrace the mystery of faith and to strengthen their faith with actions to alms and good works. Aidan’s mission changed the people of Northumbria. It is with his inspiration, and through the love and inspiration of Christ our Lord that we at St. Aidan’s join together and answer the call to respond and reach out to our community. Following are the various ways in which we embrace in relationship and journey beyond the table.
St. Paul’s Food Pantry, St. Paul’s KCK
St. Paul’s Food Pantry is open every Wednesday and Saturday providing food to families in the Kansas City, KS neighborhood at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. St. Aidan’s volunteers support in several ways including breaking down large bulk items such as sugar, flour, detergent, oil, etc. Volunteers also help stock shelves, receive donations and have taken leadership in maintaining order in the food storage room. Some of our volunteers aid in shopping with the neighbors and are also involved with the computer work and processing the neighbors seeking assistance. In addition, parishioners weekly contribute food and hygiene items; recycled plastic bottles, and paper and plastic shopping bags for use at the pantry.
Johnson County Food Ministry
In 2011 St. Aidan’s, with the financial support of Episcopal Community Services, was able to participate with a new ministry that had been introduced in the fall of 2010. We joined with the Johnson County Food Ministry and the Artist’s Helping the Homeless project, in providing meals to the community each week. For St. Aidan’s this was initially planned to be a quarterly ministry, however due to the overwhelming support and commitment from our volunteers, St. Aidan’s took the leap and for the third year now is committed each month to serving every 4th Thursday of the month. Each month, we provide, prepare, and serve dinner to neighbors in the community in need during the year. Many area churches have also signed up to help with this project. And St. Aidan’s, along with additional support from ECS recruited and received volunteer assistance from other churches and organizations as well. Members from the outreach committee determine and plan the menu, purchase the food, prepare the meal and encourage volunteers to help the day of the event. We were blessed to have volunteers from St. Luke's in Shawnee continue to commit in joining us each month as well. St. Aidan’s again hosted the Thanksgiving meal this year with a wonderful Turkey dinner. Fall decorations for the table centerpieces were again used to provide a warm fall welcome to our neighbors. Again, a ham dinner was provided as a special Christmas meal. Thank you to the many volunteers who were willing to serve the day after Christmas. Again, the year finished in great celebration with one another as we continue to grow in relationship with others in our community. In all, we had a total of approximately 307 volunteers throughout the 2013 year that assisted St. Aidan’s in preparing and serving 3,128 meals in our community.
Recycled cell phones are collected and donated to SafeHome, a facility and support center for battered women in Johnson County. Wireless phones are reactivated with new company donated minutes and provided to victims of domestic violence who may encounter an emergency situation. Items such as hairbrushes, hair dryers, lotions, makeup, and various hygiene items are also appreciated, as many of the victims arrive at SafeHome with only the clothes on their backs.
Adopt a School
St. Aidan’s as a faith community partner is working in conjunction with local businesses to assist Mission Trail Middle School in the Olathe School District’s Adopt a School Program. As part of our ministry, we support this school by providing snacks for students in need to enjoy during the school day. Often, children need a small snack in the morning hours before lunch or to get them through to the end of the day.
Harvesters BackSnack Program
St. Aidan’s is in our fifth year with supporting this ministry to Olathe students in grades K-5. Last year we partnered with College Church of the Nazarene to pack and deliver backpacks filled with food provided by Harvesters to 7 Olathe Schools and 370 students. This year, College Church of the Nazarene supports 2 of these schools independently with Harvesters now. St. Aidan’s with Harrvesters continues to supports 5 of these schools. We ended the school year last year with 260 students, started with 270 at the beginning of this school year and have again seen an increase to bring the total number of students for 2013 to 285. Each Wednesday St Aidans volunteers sanitize, pack and load the backpacks. In addition, volunteers help pickup and deliver. This year we added several new teams for pickup and delivery. In total every week, about 25-30 people help with this ministry. On occasion, we double packed due to school breaks during the year. Aside from the many volunteers at St. Aidan’s, this ministry continues to attract attention within the community, and volunteers from outside the walls of St. Aidan’s to graciously donate their time. An additional 10 people from a senior resident location also help by preparing the plastic bags used for packing. They have quaintly named themselves the “Bag Ladies” though there is one gentleman who has joined the group.
What started out 5 years ago with 7 elementary schools, has grown within the community. Upon seeing the success with this ministry, many churches and businesses in the area are now doing their own version of Backsnacks and feeding children on the weekend not only on an elementary level but middle school and high school level. It is so heartbreaking to recognize that child hunger exist in Olathe and the need for hunger relief continues to grow. We are thankful for the many volunteers and resources available that help us to continue supporting this ministry.
St. Aidan’s has volunteers that pick up day old bread donated from Hen House each Sunday and deliver it to Catholic Charities in Olathe each Monday. Each weekly delivery is enough to provide for about 50 families.
SafeHome Holiday Shop
St. Aidan’s again held a Christmas gift collection in support of women who are victims of Domestic Violence. Carrying on with the same theme from last year, a theme of Wrapped in the Warmth of God’s Love, we collected gift items for women that represented warmth. Items such as robes, pajamas, blankets, towels, comforters, gloves, slippers, hats, scarves, etc. were collected and donated to SafeHome’s Holiday Shop. Butterflies made by children from SafeHome, were beautifully decorated on the Christmas trees in the narthex, where donated items were collected. Items were collected during November and the first part of December and delivered to the Holiday Shop on December 6th. In addition, on December 7th, volunteers donated their time to help in the holiday shop and helped put merchandise away, and shop with clients.
Lap Robe Ministry
Lap size comforters are created for those confined to wheelchairs or beds in hospitals, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. This ministry is sponsored by the Ladies Reading Group here at St. Aidan’s.