A Season for Acts of Love

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from God. — Psalm 127:3

As we move into the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, I find myself thinking about children. During Advent, we prepare for the coming of Christ, who comes in the form of a baby born to Mary and Joseph. At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth and revel in the sheer joy of children (of all ages) who love the Christmas season. During Epiphany, we remember the journey of the Magi who came to see the child, and we hear stories of Jesus as a baby and young child, knowing what God envisioned for him.

These seasons not only remind us of children, they also give us a chance to transform the lives of children and their communities around the world. On November 13, the Diocese of North Carolina launched a diocesan effort to support Episcopal Relief & Development’s ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE campaign to expand its work with children.

Research shows that the first 1,000 days are foundational, affecting a child’s capacity to grow, learn, and thrive over his or her entire life. Episcopal Relief & Development works with global partners to implement a community-led, holistic approach to address the interrelated needs of families with young children: parenting, health, nutrition, food security, and livelihoods. Community volunteers are key to this program, meeting with caregivers in their homes each month, ensuring that:

— Mothers get prenatal health care, babies are weighed and measured each month, and children are vaccinated.
— Families have mosquito nets to protect them from malaria.
— Families participate in nutrition classes, learning how to make nutritious meals from readily available foods.
— Caregivers learn the importance of sanitation and how to access clean water.
— Caregivers participate in peer-to-peer parenting groups.
— Families are given seeds for a garden, which allows them to generate income from sales of produce as well as feed the children with nutritional food.
— Children ages 3-5 are enrolled in playgroups, where they socialize with other children, learn letters and numbers, and eventually learn to read and basic math so that they are prepared when they start school.
— Women participate in savings and loan groups, improving livelihoods.

The ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE campaign will help Episcopal Relief & Development expand this work. For a mere $15, the cost of a package to nurture and nourish the earliest learners in Episcopal Relief & Development’s Gifts For Life catalog, each of us can help transform the life of a child. Together, we at St. Peter’s can transform the lives of hundreds of children and their communities – and that number can reach over 13,000 if we reach our diocesan goal of $198,000.

What can each of us do? Learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development’s work with children at www.episcopalrelief.org. Contact Des Keller to get involved in the campaign at St. Peter’s. Donate to the campaign. Purchase Gifts For Life that are marked as ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE gifts for your holiday giving.

Thank you for your acts of love and giving your time and treasure to transform lives and communities. Together, we can ensure lasting change for children and their communities.

Josephine Hicks