Hands-On Sunday (formerly Fifth Sunday) is a community-based, church-wide mission project that takes place three or four times a year. Organized by the Board of Outreach and Social Justice, Hands-On Sunday events bring church and community members together to do meaningful work in conjunction with organizations that make a difference in our community and the world.
In 2008, Little River established a Welcome Center in our Jubilee Room for international students at the nearby Annandale campus of the Northern Virginia Community College. The program provides an opportunity one afternoon a week for international students to practice their English in an informal, relaxed setting and for Little River members and the students to learn about each other’s cultures.
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.
ARISE (United College Ministries in Northern Virginia)
ARISE reaches out to and provides spiritual support to students on the campuses of George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College, regardless of their affiliation with Christianity. Through ordained and peer ministers, ARISE 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 ARISE, and several Little River members volunteer their time.
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 assistance vitally needed by our unemployed and low-income neighbors. Food for Others 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 gives financial support to Food for Others, and our members provide assistance by collecting surplus food from local grocery stores, working in the warehouse, and serving on its board of directors.
Fairfax FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help)
Fairfax 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, 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 we maintain for FISH.
Thrive DC, located in Northwest Washington, works to prevent and end homelessness by recognizing the dignity and potential of persons in need and providing services that meet basic needs, educate and empower people, and create community. Financial and volunteer support from Little River UCC helps Thrive DC provide services including two daily meals, free showers and laundry, employment training, and mentoring.
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, and 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 to support Alternative House's important work.
Christmas Gifts for Children in Need
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. Through this service, hundreds of gifts are provided each year to needy children served by Annandale Christian Community for Action, Main Street Child Development Center in Fairfax, and Shaw Community Ministry in Washington.
Hubert S. Beckwith Scholarship Fund
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.