Edgewood UMC ushered in the season of giving by making donations to entities in their community that are committed to serving families. Fletcher Place Community Center, a United Methodist supported ministry located near downtown Indianapolis, received $8,000 to help continue its efforts feed families and children during this time of great need.

“Edgewood has always had a strong passion for mission and ministry outside of the church walls,” said Rev. Paul Wagner, Senior Pastor. “And this is one of the ways we felt we could provide for these ministries when we can’t do a lot things ourselves because of the pandemic.”

In total, Paul says the church raised $24,000 in mission funds to go toward strengthening local ministries throughout the surrounding community.

“We’ve been accumulating this particular batch of $24,000 over the last few years. We have a faith promise mission program every year that raises around $16,000-17,000.”

“It is money ‘promised’ beyond regular giving to the church by the congregation to be used for mission work outside the church walls or outside the congregation,” says Paul. “It’s intended to help people and to address social causes. We raise $15,000 dollars annually.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of access for face-to-face interaction, Edgewood congregations was encouraged to give more money this year. “Money that was given directly to organizations that we know are directly helping our community, as well as people in need,” He adds.

$4,000 has been distributed to Fire Station 23 and Fire Station 35, which serve communities in Perry Township. $8,000 was distributed among 11 different schools in the area, ranging from elementary to high school. The funds were designated to the social workers that serve the schools “so that they have some resources for children in need,” said Paul.

“For a congregation of only about 130 members, it’s a tremendous amount of money,” He noted.

Melissa Drew, Executive Director at Fletcher Place, said the community center plans to use their donation to continue providing sack lunches to families in need. “Since the pandemic started, we’ve served over 30,000 hot meals. So support like this from Edgewood will go a long way in helping us meet our mission of breaking the cycles of poverty. “

Fletcher Place has deep roots in The United Methodist Church, dating back to its inception in 1872. Melissa says that efforts from local churches are critical, particularly during these trying times.

“Congregations like Edgewood have traditionally supported us financially through the Indiana Conference and Metro Ministries,” she says. “As well as provide volunteers.”

Brie Anne Schoch, a social worker at Southport Middle School and the 6th Grade Academy says the funds from Edgewood UMC will allow her and those in her line of work to serve students in need that don’t meet the criteria for government assistance — like students who are homeless or are in foster care. She says, “For the majority of our students that don’t fall into either of those two categories, they have a lot of needs that we can’t usually address at this school without additional funds.”

Brie says she used the funds to establish a student service fund at the 6th Grade Academy to help care for different needs students may have, like the need for hygiene products, bus passes, or access to outerwear – particularly during the approaching winter season.

“We’ve had kids who are in different need of alarm clocks because they live on their own and have to get themselves up in the morning and don’t have another way.”

The donations from Edgewood UMC were given specifically to social workers because they are among some of the faculty that work closely with students and have a higher chance of knowing about a student’s living conditions at home.

Brie says her job is to address barriers to education and serve as the liaison between home and school. “We’re on the front lines of determining what those needs are, along with teachers.”

She continues, “For a lot of students, school is their safe place. That’s what we strive to be. The unfortunate part of that is that they don’t always have a safe place to return to. Being here is the only chance they have at a couple of meals a day, safety, quiet, learning, and a caring adult. While that’s not true for all students, for way too many it is.”

Assistance from neighbors like Edgewood UMC will help school faculty continue serving those students. Brie says that allowing social workers the freedom to use the funds as needed really speaks to her. She says, “It’s trusting those people who are working with the kids every day to identify what those needs are and giving a little leeway in what we can accomplish with those funds and that has been so helpful.”

Paul shared that the $24,000 raised by the church was an extra sum added to their annual $15,000 fundraising. “So by the end of Spring of 2021 we expect to have given out $39,000 in 12 months.”