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Seasons of Generosity: Sharing Resources, Changing Lives

November 15, 2012

Cdr. L.C.M. Vosseler delivering packages to Chungwon-ni Presbyterian Church, South Korea, 1954.


From the Executive Director...

Presbyterians have always been a generous people.  Like others who have helped to shape the American story, Reformed Christians have always generously responded to people in crisis. Sharing with those in need is a part of our Presbyterian DNA that has been manifested through seasons of generosity since our country’s beginning.

Presbyterians have responded to those in need in a variety of creative ways. Mary Emma Allison, after seeing a UNICEF booth to raise funds to send powdered milk to undernourished children around the world, came up with the idea of Trick or Treat for UNICEF in 1950, with the children collecting donations for that organization instead of candy. That first effort carried out by her own children and others in the community yielded $17 for UNICEF.

Forty years later, another group of Presbyterians came up with a creative way to help those who were food challenged. Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at the Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., offered a simple prayer that inspired a movement: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us to be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat.” The Presbyterian Souper Bowl has generated over $81 million for soup kitchens, food banks, and other charities since 1990.

But because Presbyterians are ecumenical, they have joined with other faith traditions and organizations to address common problems that plague humanity. Since 1949, Presbyterians have joined with others to support One Great Hour of Sharing, to assist those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and help to empower the poor and oppressed.  Through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, they have acted globally and locally to come to the aid of those who have suffered from natural catastrophes.

The Presbyterian Historical Society staff hopes to follow these examples: through the PHS Cares committee, staff members have participated in the city-wide cleanup Philly Cares Day, organized two blood drives, and collected hundreds of food and toy donations for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The best to you and your family this holiday, and may we all remember with thanks, giving this year!  

Frederick J. Heuser, Ph.D.