Expressing God's Love, Engaging in God's Justice

Alternative Christmas Gifts

Alternative Christmas Gifts Catalog

Alternative Christmas Gifts is an opportunity to give the gift of hope to people in this city and around the world.  Each program has a connection to someone at NYAPC who cares deeply about the program and its people.  This catalogue contains a description of each program and some information about its present state.  This year, we have local programs, namely the DC Geriatric Day Care Center and Open Arms Housing for Women, and International Programs:  The International Medical Corps, Kenya Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Cuba Partners, Iraq Churches and the National Evangelical Church in Homs, Syria.  We are also selling Olive Oil from Palestine.


Make your check payable to NYAPC, 1313 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20005.  Write the name of program on the Memo line: “OPEN ARMS,” “GERIATRIC DAY CARE,” “MEDICAL CORPS,” “KENYA ORPHANS,” “CUBA PARTNERS,” “IRAQ CHURCHES,” “SYRIA CHURCH,” “OLIVE OIL”.  If you wish to contribute to several programs with one check, please indicate the precise amount to be given to each program, or indicate “to be divided evenly with all 7 programs.”  Money for olive oil should be paid separately.


CONTRIBUTE ON LINE : Click here to give now.

Either log in OR choose to donate as a guest.  If your name and address are not already there, fill them in, and go down to bottom of list of giving opportunities to find the Christmas Gifts programs. You can give to several programs at once. Note that information for the two new programs, SYRIA and IMC, have not yet been added.



Founded in 1976 at a time when seniors were being abandoned in hospitals or on streets, Downtown Cluster’s Geriatric Day Care Center now treats nearly 80 elderly District residents. While institutional care might cost $85,000 to $100,000 a year or more, public/private partnerships keep costs at the Center under $10,000. Easing the work of caregivers by providing care to clients during the day, the Center’s services also mean that seniors can remain in their own homes — a financial and psychological boon. Vital services like transportation and meals are provided, and seniors spend their days meaningfully occupied — creating art, engaging in recreational therapy and counseling, and leading active social lives. Those recovering from stroke participate in movement and occupational therapy, and arthritis suffers practice joint protection and work simplification techniques.

Alzheimer’s clients are encouraged to speak and nurture others by interacting with toddlers in a unique program which benefits young and old. The Center provides public safety and crime prevention workshops, home visits, shopping and transportation arrangements. One in six DC residents is 60 or older, so the need is great. Your compassionate care really makes a difference here.

Our focus is to prevent further emotional, physical or cognitive deterioration of the elderly and to offer a humanistic alternative to expensive institutional care. “Promoting and supporting the extended family” enables family and friends to keep their loved ones home and comfortable within family ties.

The Center’s trained and dedicated staff includes a consulting physician, a registered nurse, registered art, occupational and movement therapists, social workers, recreation specialists, therapeutic assistants and transportation/program assistants. Supporting these professionals are caring volunteers, senior aides and qualified interns.


Since Open Arms Housing (OAH) opened its doors in 2009 to long-term homeless women affected by serious mental illness, the New York Avenue Church has been a steady source of support for its building and program, the Dunbar, at 57 O St., NW.  In its 16 units, the Dunbar has assured safe, secure and comfortable permanent supportive housing for 25 of this city’s most vulnerable women.  In fact, in those five years only one woman has returned to life on the streets.

Now, in relatively short order, OAH will be serving its target population at two new sites in Washington.  In the last year, with City help, OAH purchased and is currently rehabilitating a four-unit building that will house four additional women starting in the summer of 2015.  In addition, OAH has forged an agreement with a developer which has just received word of City funding to build a new six-story mixed-income residence on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue in Anacostia.  Four units of that development have been set aside for OAH’s clients.  There are estimated to be between 300 and 400 women in Washington who fit the description of OAH’s target population, people affected by serious mental illness who have been on the streets or in shelters for a long period, most often, an average of seven years.  Eight new units of targeted housing is certainly only a modest response to that desperate need, but it is something.

As the New York Avenue Church considers the future of its response to homelessness, it would be well for us to consider our financial support to OAH, through the Deacons’ Fund and the Alternative Christmas Store, as part of a broader tapestry of response that includes:  The direct and pastoral support of the Radcliffe Room, the clothes closet and the Downtown Cluster’s social workers; homeless advocacy through WIN and the Downtown Cluster of Congregations; homeless prevention through the McClendon Center, the 7-2-9 Program and the Benevolence Fund; meeting of basic human needs through open access to our bathrooms; and support of direct housing through financial and other support of programs like Open Arms.  The former days of small church-run homeless housing programs is probably over given the evolving institutionalizing and professionalization of homeless response over the last 30 years.  Our church, though, will continue to make an imprint on the city’s answer to homelessness, yet constantly on the lookout for new, imaginative, faithful ways to bring our energies to bear on that inhuman condition of homelessness.



International Medical Corps (IMC) is connected to NYAPC in two important ways.  First, Virginia Jurika, a faithful and much loved volunteer in our Radcliffe Room Ministry accepted the position of Senior Human Resources Manager with the International Medical Corps in Juba, South Sudan.  Elie Robins and the other volunteers in the Radcliffe Room asked that we recognize Virginia’s important work by requesting donations for IMC in the Alternative Christmas catalogue.  At the same time, IMC is carrying out critically needed work on the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.  Karen Milam-Feret and her family had traveled to Liberia several years ago and some of the folks they met with then have since died from Ebola.  Thus, Karen asked donations be made to IMC to assist in combating Ebola in Liberia and elsewhere.

Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, IMC focuses on the delivery of community-based primary health care.  IMC’s mission is to start by providing emergency health care, nutrition, water and sanitation and other vital services to those in urgent need.  IMC also starts planting the seeds for transitioning communities from emergency relief activities to eventual local self-reliance.  IMC makes it a priority to hire, train and educate local staff – 96 percent of all IMC field-based staff and health care professionals are recruited from the local, affected communities.  Below is a very brief summary of current IMC efforts underway in South Sudan and Liberia:


Today, the International Medical Corps continues to monitor the evolution of the nutrition crisis in South Sudan. The torrential rains in this region during the months of July and August in 2014 made roads and rivers impassible, making it even more challenging for aid agencies to provide necessary services. This season comes on the heels of six months of war that uprooted 1.1 million people. While men, women and children leave their homes in search of safety from violence, they face further dangers such as hunger, disease and other medical concerns. Displaced persons have been unable to plant crops and therefore the country is unable to feed itself. Humanitarian assistance is crucial to the survival of the people of South Sudan.  However, access to areas with little or no nutrition support remains a serious problem. Security concerns remain prevalent as well.  International Medical Corps is working with other UN and NGO agencies to improve access to these areas.


A new Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) was opened in Bong County, Liberia on September 15, 2014, bringing the total number of facilities capable of treating the disease in the country to six. The facility was opened by International Medical Corps at the site about 120 miles north of Monrovia – only the second location in the country, outside of the capital, capable of treating patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus. With the opening of this facility, International Medical Corps is one of only a handful of international NGOs in the world to be treating Ebola patients. Twenty one patients have now fully recovered and were released as cured. As of October 28, the ETU has admitted 177 patients.




Started in 2007 — with crucial support from the Alternative Christmas Store — this important program provides a Saturday program for 35 of the neediest orphans in Njoro and their equally needy foster families. The program provides comprehensive assistance to the children including food, clothing, shoes and uniforms, school supplies, tuition fees, physical fitness equipment, and educational, spiritual and recreational activities, including tutoring. Additionally, corn flour is given to the families to provide a much-needed staple. This year money is particularly needed to continue funding a full time social worker to oversee this blossoming program.  She has been on the job since January 2014, and is having a really beneficial effect on the program.  She visits the homes and schools of the children on a regular basis, and assesses each child’s news and provides each child with counseling.  She has also identified problems early, enabling a better resolution of these problems.  The program also hopes to begin building up a library in one of the unused rooms at the church, to which we hope to contribute books.

Perhaps the most important benefit to the children is the loving encouragement and spiritual support they get from the program’s staff, volunteer members of the Njoro Presbyterian of East Africa and each other. Those of us who support the program also benefit from the personal relationships developed during visits to Njoro in February 2010 and this year, August 2013.  We are so encouraged in knowing that we are changing the quality of life of children who sorely need help. In October 2011 we were blessed by a visit from Jeremiah Nduyu, the elder most responsible for identifying the extent of the problem of orphans — many of them orphaned by AIDS — and designing the program.  This year, Francis Muchemi, chair of the PCEA Njoro OVC Committee, was able to visit us in late May.   We are looking forward to deepening these relationships through this partnership in the coming years.


First Presbyterian-Reformed Church of Havana: La Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada de la Habana has been in relationship with NYAPC since fall 1998, a sister church since 1999, and a partner since 2005. First Havana is an urban church with the oldest Protestant sanctuary in Havana and a history of peace-and-justice ministry, much like NYAPC. Its urban ministry and outreach is recognized internationally by church leaders in Latin America. Your donation will be used for its many ministries such as its house mission churches, School for the Elderly, Tai Chi health classes, the Friendly Telephone hotline that assists those in need or in trouble, four baseball teams for neighborhood children, the library used by adults and children in the neighborhood, its active youth and young-adults programs, and maintaining the church’s 1985 car. Your generous support is the only gift our partner church receives from NYAPC.

Evangelical Theological Seminary: The Ofelia Ortega Endowment Fund was established in 2005 to support the Seminario Evangelico de Teologia. The seminary celebrated its 65th anniversary in October 2011, and was attended by a NYAPC representative. The student population has continued to grow, and its staff is primarily composed of pastors—including First Havana’s Rev. Mendez–serving as adjunct professors. Your gift will ensure a continued source of funding for the seminary.


Two Elders from the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Iraq—Yousif al-Saka in Baghdad and Dr. Zuhair Fathallah in Basrah—visited NYAPC as PC(USA) International Peacemakers in 2008 and 2013, respectively.  Both “pastored” their churches for many years until called Presbyterian pastors arrived at their churches within the past three years.  Despite the hardships of dwindling congregations due to war, both churches have amazing outreach ministries.  The Baghdad Church is assisting 50-60 displaced families living in temporary housing within a 10-kilometer radius around the church property.  In September 2011 the Baghdad Church opened the Good Shepherd Children’s Center for the young pre-school children with hopes of opening in the future the Center for older children. It is also working to open a Home for Seniors.

The Presbyterian Church in Basrah opened a kindergarten four years ago with 250 children.  It hopes to expand its FM radio station and establish a free Medical Day Center.  Both churches need financial support for their schools and the projects on which they are currently working under difficult conditions.

The Baghdad and Basrah Churches are two of five original Presbyterian churches in Iraq and all have lost members who have fled the country. The Assyrian Presbyterian Church has joined with the Presbyterian Church in Baghdad after two of their ministers fled leaving no ordained clergy. The church in Mosul is closed, and the last remaining Presbyterian family fled to Erbil before ISIS took over Mosul.  The other active Presbyterian Church with an ordained pastor is in Kirkuk.  These churches need our support for the vital and courageous work they are doing.


The National Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church of Syria in Homs is led by Rev. Mofid Karajili.  The church is challenged by destruction and bombings to the city and its own structure.  The Church in Homs, working with the Synod of Syria and Lebanon, plans to help 40 families rebuild their homes that have been destroyed by fighting over the past 3-1/2 years.  It is working with a network of churches as a designated distribution site for heating fuel, food, and other supplies for the winter.  Your support will enable the Presbyterian Church in Homs to meet its own needs and that of the families it is helping.

PALESTINIAN OLIVE OIL — $20 per bottle

The olive tree is a symbol of Palestine, a symbol “of being steadfast to the land.” The month of October is peak olive harvesting season in the West Bank and Gaza. Every year, Palestinians tend to the trees that bring $100 million to their economy, supporting about 100,000 farming families. Zatoun ensures that farmers are paid fair trade rpices through the Palestine Fair Trade Association. But the season is often fraught with crime and violence. Since 1967 an estimated 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted according to Oxfam. Tens of thousands have been destroyed to build the separation barrier, and restrictions on movement have left even more inaccessible to Palestinian farmers without permission from the Israeli army.

In 2011, Israeli authorities rejected 42 percent of the applications submitted by Palestinian farmers requesting access to their land. These restrictions also prevent year-round maintenance such as plowing, pruning and fertilizer that affects the quality of the yield. In recent years, extremist settler groups have brazenly attacked the trees by burning them and even using chain saws.

In 2012, vandals from settlements destroyed 7,500 trees. According to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, these attacks are “intended…as an attack on [Palestinian] identity and heritage.” Data from Yesh Din shows that not only is there a lack of protection, but a lack of prosecution. The group estimates that 97 percent of investigations of damage to Palestinian olive trees are closed due to “police failings” with only four cases out of 211 resulting in indictments.