United Church of Christ’s ‘3 Great Loves’ Initiative Inspires Two Senior Communities in North Carolina to ‘Reach Out and Read’ and ‘Share the Warmth’

Each donation at Piedmont Crossing was noted by a book ornament on a special Christmas tree.

When two United Church Homes and Services senior communities in North Carolina read about the UCC’s ‘3 Great Loves’ initiative, they knew they had to participate.

Piedmont Crossing, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Thomasville, decided to show its love of children through a book purchasing fund raiser sponsored by a local pediatrics office. Each year, Thomasville Pediatrics raises funds for “Reach Out and Read,” a program that allows the office to purchase books for $2 each. The program’s mission “is to give young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together,” says Shaylyn Ladd, director of community engagement for United Church Homes and Services.

The fund raiser was a particularly good fit for Piedmont Crossing, since many of the residents “are retired school teachers and professors that have a passion for improving literacy efforts,” Ladd says. “Our director of spiritual life, Rev. Bob Symanski, shares that same passion. Rev. Symanski discovered the ‘Reach Out and Read’ program and felt it was a way to make a difference locally. With the ‘3 Great Loves’ initiative in mind, this was a great way to help children and parents.”

Piedmont Crossing collected funds for five weeks, from Thanksgiving until Christmas. The $1,475 Piedmont raised will enable Thomasville Pediatrics to purchase more than 730 books.

Focusing on Neighbors

Employees Shaylyn Ladd and Alora Burrell prepare to deliver items collected during the ‘Share the Warmth’ drive.

Meanwhile, United Church Homes and Services’ Abernethy Laurels in Newton, N.C., focused on “love of neighbor.” The Continuing Care Retirement Community has partnered in various ways over the years with Trinity Reformed UCC in Conover, N.C. Trinity sponsors an annual community lunch on Saturdays during the winter, so Abernethy Laurels decided the time was right for a larger partnership, and created the “Share the Warmth” effort.

“Share the Warmth” was a drive to collect donations of blankets, socks, gloves, scarves, and new or gently used coats and jackets that could be given to people at the Saturday lunches who need them. Abernethy Laurels served as collection site for the donated items.

“The church feeds people a warm meal,” says Ladd, “and we thought it would be a special touch to have ‘warm’ items available to them; so we decided to collect those warm items.”

“Share the Warmth” filled several large boxes with donated items for distribution at the community lunch.

“Through our partnership [with Trinity Reformed UCC], we can feed the hungry and help those that are cold,” Ladd says.

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