Emory Report
December 15, 2008
Volume 61, Number 15

Holiday help

The many outreach efforts around campus this holiday season ranged from holiday cards students made for hospital patients to those who purchased a “virtual can” at Emory Healthcare cafeterias to support the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

By now most donations have already been collected, like the truckload of supplies, games, and gifts the Department of Psychiatry delivered to the Metro Atlanta Respite & Developmental Services and Chris Kids, but there are still opportunities to help.

Among them: Volunteer Emory needs help gathering and packaging books from various donation sites around campus to send to students in Africa. Shifts run between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. through Dec. 19. To sign up, or learn about other volunteer opportunities, contact Harold McNaron at hmcnar2@emory.edu.



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December 15
, 2008
Holiday spirit stocks church pantry

By Kim Urquhart

“We pride ourselves on trying to make the best cup of coffee around,” says Chad Hyatt ’90C-’93T, pastor of Mercy Community Church. “When it’s cold outside, it’s not only heartwarming but also body-warming.” That’s important to the Candler alumnus, whose congregation is 90 percent homeless. On any given morning this winter, the church serves up several gallons of coffee – made possible by community support.

“Like any group, we are always in need of donations and gifts,” says Hyatt, “but in this economy we are seeing not only increased need, but less giving.”

An Emory group is among those helping to stock Mercy’s food pantry. The Operations Division of Development and Alumni Relations collected four bags of food at its “Between the Holidaze” potluck breakfast on Dec. 3.

“When DAR Operations decided we wanted to do a philanthropy project, Mercy Community Church seemed like the way to go, as I know they need the help and it would be an all-Emory project,” says Holidaze committee member Leslie Hunter, a senior research analyst.

Hunter first learned about the work of Mercy Community Church through the pastor’s wife, Camille Hyatt, a senior billing specialist for IT Finance and Administration, whom she met on her commute to Emory on the North DeKalb Mall Park’n’Ride.

“We walk from Woodruff Circle to the 1762 Clifton building most days and have lots of time to talk,” explains Hunter.

She began to learn more about the non-denominational grassroots church that clothes, feeds, and worships with the homeless, the addicted and the poor. Three years ago, Mercy was a small circle of people gathered in the living room of the Hyatt’s one-bedroom apartment. Mercy is now run out of a shared space in a Druid Hills church, yet Hyatt takes great care to retain that feeling of community. “In everything we do, we welcome friend and stranger alike in a come-as-you-are, make-yourself-at-home kind of way,” he says.

Mercy’s members serve each other through cooking and serving meals. “We believe that when we share our resources with each other, we are working to achieve at least a small measure of economic and personal justice in a broken world,” Hyatt says.

The church stocks a food pantry, regularly serving eight meals each week to hungry crowds. Because Mercy operates on a shoestring budget, staples such as butter and jelly; coffee, sugar and creamer; meats; and canned goods that can be combined into soups are always welcome.

The amount of food Mercy serves has doubled, Hyatt notes. “We can serve 120 folks in a day, but we’re still small in a lot of ways, and so every little bit makes a difference.”

The church also provides over-the-counter medications, in demand during cold and flu season. Donations of cold-weather items such as coats, caps, gloves and blankets, as well as T-shirts, pants, underwear and socks, are always needed to stock the clothes closet Mercy maintains.

Monetary gifts further the church’s commitment to empower the voices of the voiceless, allowing Mercy to provide transportation, employment and housing assistance as well as jail and hospital visits.

Volunteering is another way the Emory community can help. Mercy’s associate pastor Katie Aikins is a recent Candler graduate, and Hyatt says Mercy welcomes Candler students or others interested in “a different approach to church.”