Shaw Community Ministry
Shaw Community Ministry provides educational and social programs that respond to the needs of residents of the Shaw area of Northwest Washington. Offerings include an after-school program, college prep classes and scholarships, wellness and enrichment programs for children and youth, a summer day camp, digital-media literacy and job-readiness instruction for adults, and mentoring for children and youth. SCM is a ministry of the Potomac Association of the United Church of Christ; Little River UCC provides representatives to the SCM Board and supports its programs financially. Volunteers from Little River work with participants and staff, and our members donate school supplies, scholarship funds, and Christmas gifts to Shaw.
United College Ministries of Northern Virginia
United College Ministries of Northern Virginia (UCMNV) reaches out and provides spiritual support to students on the campuses of George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College, regardless of the students’ affiliation with Christianity. Through ordained and peer ministers, UCMNV fosters awareness in students that the greater community cares about them. Activities include the “Listening Post,” a place to talk with a person who listens, responds, and provides non-judgmental companionship; campus involvement through organizing events on topics of interest such as world hunger; mission work trips; a weekly meal with informal conversation, and the publicizing of events, activities and resources available throughout the national capital area. Little River UCC provides financial support to UCMNV and several Little River members volunteer in various capacities.
Food For Others
Food for Others helps meet the nutritional needs of people in Northern Virginia who are unable to provide adequate food for themselves and their families. As the largest distributor of free food directly to people in need in Northern Virginia, it furnishes the assistance vitally needed by our unemployed and low-income neighbors, and it provides a safety net for people who suddenly face unforeseen emergencies such as a family illness or the loss of a job or a spouse. Little River UCC provides financial support to Food for Others, and Little River members provide assistance by collecting surplus food from local grocery stores, working in the warehouse, and serving on the Board of Directors.
Fairfax FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help)
FISH is an ecumenical outreach program that works through referrals from the Fairfax County Department of Human Services to assist people in need in Fairfax County. FISH provides food, clothing, and financial assistance for rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, gasoline, and medical bills. FISH volunteers also deliver food to homes. Little River UCC supports FISH financially, participates with 14 other member churches on the FISH Council, maintains a FISH food pantry, and provides volunteers who respond to FISH requests for assistance one day every four weeks. In addition, on each communion Sunday, many people bring non-perishable food donations to restock the food pantry.
Thrive DC works to prevent and end homelessness by recognizing the dignity and potential of women and men in need and providing services that meet basic needs, educate and empower people, and create community. Little River UCC financial support and volunteers help provide services, including preparing and serving two meals a day, free showers and laundry, employment training, mentoring, and more. Thrive DC was previously known as the Dinner Program for Homeless Women and is located in Northwest Washington, D.C.
Homestretch is the largest provider of transitional housing to homeless families in Fairfax County. Its mission is to empower homeless families to return to stable housing and self-sufficiency by giving them the skills, knowledge, and hope they need to become productive participants in their communities. In addition to housing, Homestretch provides many other services to help families succeed, including life skills, computer literacy, GED, and financial management classes as well as intensive case management and mentoring services. Homestretch places special emphasis on children, offering numerous enrichment services to ensure that they have the best possible chance of a normal, healthy childhood. Little River UCC provides financial support to Homestretch.
Alternative House provides a safe haven for at-risk children, youth, and young adults in Northern Virginia. It offers emergency shelter for teenagers, a round-the-clock crisis hotline, a program to assist young mothers in finding stability and turning their lives around, and help with rent, budgeting, and schoolwork for homeless youth who are trying to finish high school. Through its financial support for Alternative House, Little River UCC seeks to support interventions to help vulnerable youth in our community. The Board of Outreach and Social Justice is also exploring other ways for us to support Alternative House's important work.
Christmas Gifts for Under-Served Children
The White Gift service is a long-standing and cherished tradition at Little River UCC that reenacts the story of the Magi bringing gifts to the infant Jesus. As the service culminates, the congregation carries gifts—wrapped in simple white—to the manger scene. Through this service, hundreds of gifts are provided each year to needy children served by Shaw Community Ministry in Washington, Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) in Annandale, and Main Street Child Development Center in Fairfax.
Walks for Causes
Each year, Little River UCC organizes groups to participate in walks to raise awareness on issues or to raise money for worthy causes. Recent walks with Little River participation include Walk for Homeless, the Gay Pride parade, and Angelman Syndrome.
The Hubert S. Beckwith Scholarship Fund was established to honor Little River's founding pastor and to assist seminary students from the Potomac Association of the UCC who have demonstrated academic excellence and sustained commitment to community service. Currently a $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually. The Deacons’ and Pastors’ Benevolence Fund is available to the pastors for response to emergency needs within our congregation and the local community.