First Presbyterian Church has long been committed to helping those who are less fortunate beyond the church’s walls. Mission is important to us and there are a number of ways we help those in need – with monetary donations as well as projects as simple as donating food or providing items for a specific need.
Contact Bruce Erwin, chair of the Mission Committee, if you are interested in joining the committee or have ideas on how to help others.
Congregational Outreach – Participation from the Congregation in Projects
Food Donations – ongoing
While all food donations are always welcome, the Mission Committee often will issue a plea for specific items during a month, such as cereal, rice, laundry detergent, etc. These items can be placed in the Mission Cabinet in the parlor at any time; you can be assured they will be delivered to Your Food Shelf in East Camden in a timely manner.
In addition, a food donation bin is located outside the Church School entrance on Green Street; this bin is emptied on a regular basis.
Due to the generous donations from a friend of the church, we have partnered with Heim’s Wholesale Food Distribution. We periodically purchased $200 worth of food and deliver it to local food pantries.
2 Cents a Meal - monthly
On the 2nd Sunday of each month, at the conclusion of the children’s sermon, the children walk around the sanctuary with baskets so the congregation can contribute their coins or bills to a collection based on 2 cents for each meal for the month. This money most often goes to Your Food Shelf, but has been provided to other organizations providing food.
No Sew Blankets – Several Times a Year
Several times a year, tables are set up in the parlor after worship and teams of people cut and tie the fleece blankets. These blankets are then provided to local organizations for distribution.
Shoeboxes - January
Each January, shoeboxes are placed in the parlor with a list of suggested toiletries to be purchased. Filled shoeboxes are returned within a 3-4 week period and provided to local organizations, including, but not limited to, Your Food Shelf and Mission Teens.
Souper Bowl of Caring - February
Souper Bowl of Caring is a youth-based initiative across the nation working to fight hunger and poverty coinciding with the time of the Super Bowl football game. Our youth choose a theme and promote this event, requesting both cans of soup and money for soup which goes to our own community. The event is promoted through the month of February.
School Supplies – July/August
In July & August, the congregation is requested to purchase specific school supplies which are provided to area schools.
CROP Walk - October
In conjunction with neighboring churches, we participate in 2 ways: walkers are requested to find sponsors and participate in the walk. Should the walking route pass by our church, we provide water and snacks for the walkers.
Hat & Mitten Tree - December
Each December, a peg board tree is placed in the parlor and people are invited to hang new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves on it. These items are delivered to Your Food Shelf after the 1st of the year.
Special Denominational Offerings
The following special offerings are collected annually at specific times of the year:
One Great Hour of Sharing
Collected in the spring, this offering is divided between the Presbyterian Hunger Program, the Self-Development of People and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
The Christmas Joy Offering
Collected in the weeks before Christmas, this offering provides funding for the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions as well as to Presbyterian related racial-ethnic schools and colleges.
The Peace & Global Witness Offering
Collected in the fall, this offering is divided among the local congregation, presbytery & synod peacemaking ministry and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
Organizations We Support Financially AND with Congregational Participation
IHOC (Interfaith Homeless Outreach Network) Hospitality Network
An intensive, six month long program, whereby IHOC takes up to a dozen homeless men at a time and provides them with shelter and food, housing them with member congregations, while providing regular drug & alcohol counseling and life skills training. Our congregation members provide dinners and men from our congregation serve as over-night chaperones for a week in the spring while they are housed with one of our sister congregations.
This project was suspended during the Pandemic and as of February, 2023, we have not heard if/when it will start up again.
This organization helps seniors and people with disabilities, in Haddonfield and Haddon Heights, live independently and stay active in their communities. Volunteers provide rides, grocery shop & run errands, chat or read to a neighbor, provide a meal after a hospital or rehab stay or just make a brief phone call. Several members of the congregation serve on the Board, drive and/or volunteer in the office.
Organizations We Support Financially
Through our annual budget, supported by the congregation, we support a number of organizations:
Our Denomination’s Mission Work
Included in each year’s budget is money designated for mission work through the General Assembly, the Synod of the Northeast and the Presbytery for Southern New Jersey.
Living Waters, a designated denominational mission, is supported in honor of our organist, Mike Rugge, and our former administrative assistant, Joan Rugge, who have made a couple of trips to Cuba with Living Waters.
Atlantic City Rescue Mission
Provides shelter, food, Bible study, daily chapel services, drug and alcohol programs, assistance in finding permanent housing, work readiness programs and much more.
Camden Rescue Mission
A non-denominational mission, serving Camden and surrounding communities with emergency food, clothing & furniture to help people and families who have been victims of fires, the homeless, abused or mistreated persons, as well as entire families which circumstances do not allow to make ends meet.
Alberto & Joann Pagano Ministry
Alberto and Joann served in Chile and Central America for more than 20 years before returning to the USA where they are now church planting among Spanish-speaking people in Vineland, and Blackwood, NJ.
Your Food Shelf
In addition to the support we provide Your Food Shelf through food donations, 2 Cents a Meal donations, shoeboxes filled with toiletries, blankets and hats & mittens, we also provide funds through our budget.
Organizations Supported Individually by Members of our Congregation
A ministry of the Diocese of Camden, Cathedral Kitchen provides nutritious meals for those in need in North Camden in a welcoming setting. Members of the congregation volunteer there on an individual basis.
IHOC (the Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council)
IHOC was founded by First Presbyterian Church and several other congregations to provide a year-long intensive program of temporary housing, meals, and counseling to enable men to make the transition from unemployed homelessness to employed and living independently. First Presbyterian Church has helped to support IHOC through housing and meals, as well as with financial support and other volunteer opportunities.
For more than 28 years Interfaith Caregivers has been helping seniors in Haddonfield and Haddon Heights maintain their independence by providing free ride services to medical appointments, grocery stores, senior centers, and more. First Presbyterian Church is involved with Interfaith Caregivers through monetary gifts, volunteers and clients.
Mission Teens, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-denominational Christian Discipleship ministry dedicated to helping people who struggle with life-controlling problems and addictions by ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. They do not charge for their services; all of their support comes from concerned individuals and a few churches who are sensitive to their work. They have centers all over the United States and their headquarters is located in Glendora, NJ.
The mission of UrbanPromise is to equip Camden's children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and Christian leadership. They fulfill this mission through a charter school, after-school programs, and experiential job training. First Presbyterian contributes to UrbanPromise through both monetary support and volunteers.
Your Food Shelf
Since 1980, Your Food Shelf has been helping residents of Camden and the surrounding area avoid hunger. Each year, Your Food Shelf provides emergency food, clothing & household items to 1,500 seniors, families and children in need. Each food bag distributed provides a typical family of four with three meals a day for three days. In the summer months, their Farmer’s Market offers free, fresh produce to the seniors and families they serve to ensure they have access to healthy foods. First Presbyterian Church collects non-perishable food items on a regular basis for weekly distributions to Your Food Shelf.