Borough churches, groups come together to support community and beyond
Jim Steinitz leaned up against his Toyota Camry outside St. John’s Church in Collingswood on the first Sunday in November. He faced the gray stone church with blooming mums staring back at him, but there were no faces around.
It was the morning after clocks were pushed back for Daylight Savings time. One gentleman came up to him and asked if the clocks were indeed pushed back.
Steinitz informed him that they were. They both smiled.
Steinitz, however, wasn’t there because he was early due to not pushing his watch back. Instead, he was early because he was setting up to collect clothes and goods for The Joseph House in Camden.
“The Joseph House helps people in need,” Steinitz explained. “They will receive food and will sleep in cots and some come to shower.”
The Joseph House was started by Msgr. Robert McDermott, who passed away last year.
“The people here are very generous in the
parish,” Steinitz continued about St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, which includes St. John’s Church, “and the Joseph House keeps Fr. McDermott’s legacy living on.”
Charity and giving is also alive in Collingswood during the holiday season.
A block down the street from St. John’s Church, Bob Gordon stood in the foyer of the First United Methodist Church, which was already decorated with a lit Christmas tree. Gordon was handing out the church bulletin stuffed with a flyer for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.
“We pack shoeboxes for the kids,” said Gordon, who has been a member of the church since 1980, “and we send the boxes to Samaritan’s Purse. We have been doing this for over 10 years, maybe longer.”
The First United Methodist Church and Reverend Sam Mountain, the Senior Pastor, also asks for volunteers to help with the Collingswood Holiday Parade, living up to the motto of their church: “We are here to serve you.”
Fellowship Community Church on Collins Avenue is also participating in Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. Flyers are taped on the front doors and a pile of boxes are stacked in the foyer.
Pastor Ben Willey explained with a smile, “We give out boxes and we get them back.”
In addition to packing shoeboxes, the congregation also participates in a food pantry that Pastor Willey says is “incredibly efficient helping people in 08108.” There is a food pantry on Monday, Dec. 9, where non-perishable food donations are accepted. You can also visit the home of a neighbor, which is certainly timely for the holidays.
“It’s a big desire for us to be part of the community,” Pastor Willey said.
The First Baptist Church, which is one block behind the library, will once again be hosting the popular S Gagers Train Display and there will be coffee for the adults and cookies for the kids on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Other churches that help those in need include the Collingswood Presbyterian Church, on Fern and Maple Avenues – one block off Haddon Avenue – with a community dinner on Thanksgiving. A Youth Group Toy Drive is also held until Dec. 18 when they are collecting new and unwrapped gifts for Toys for Tots.
The Liberti Church, which worships at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on the 800 block of Haddon Avenue, is holding a Toy Drive on Sunday, Dec. 1, when you can bring gifts to the church for foster children.
The Bible Presbyterian Church, located on the 1100 block of Haddon Avenue, celebrates the First Saturday after Thanksgiving with a Nativity Float in the annual holiday parade. Parishioners serve as shepherds, angels and wise men to distribute flyers with information about their Christmas Concert and other Christmas events at the church.
The giving in Collingswood certainly isn’t limited to the churches. To prepare for the festive and event-filled holiday season, the residents gave back to the borough during a volunteer cleanup event on Saturday, Nov. 16, in the morning at Knight Park. There are a bountiful of busy tasks cleaning up for the busiest time of year in Collingswood, which includes churning soil and adding compost, planting and trimming bushes, raking leaves and tidying up the pavilion.
Also in the season of giving, the Gloucester County and Camden County Republican Organizations hold a two-county sponsored “Toys for Tots” drive on Tuesday, Dec. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Adelphia Restaurant in Deptford. The “Toys for Tots” Foundation is operated by the United States Marine Corp Reserve.
The holiday events in Collingswood aren’t just limited for humans, as there is a Pet Inoculation on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 8:30 a.m. hosted by Collingswood Rotary Club, which has been helping people in the borough since 1928.
Helping and giving during the holidays in Collingswood has an impressive history and is also embracing modern ways.
“People can also go to the Joseph House website and can order from Amazon,” Steinitz said, “and they will directly ship to the Joseph House.”