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Self-Realization Fellowship Blog

Highlights From the 2019 Holiday Outreach at SRF Temples, Centers, and Groups

déc. 31, 2019

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“Everything that you do, do for God. As long as you live, spread truth and love — be like little children, unafraid, simple and kind.”

Paramahansa Yogananda

When motivated by thoughts of kindness, selflessness, and caring for others, our lives are transformed into an expression of love for God. During the holiday season, SRF members and friends find joy in providing an extra dose of spiritual and material support to their communities. We are happy to share here a sampling of the charitable projects during this holiday season.

SRF Temples


Encinitas: Each year, the SRF Encinitas Temple implements an annual toy drive, collecting hundreds of toys (and dozens of bikes) for donation to the Community Resource Center (CRC). Established in 1979, the CRC provides not only basic needs for low-income and episodically homeless families but also programs to help them attain greater stability and self-sufficiency.

Encinitas
The Encinitas Temple’s annual holiday toy drive provides toys, bikes, gift cards, and a cash donation to the Community Resource Center.


San Diego: The SRF San Diego Temple congregation reached out to serve others in numerous ways. For Thanksgiving, they had a food drive to benefit Special Delivery — an organization which provides nutritious meals to individuals and families, including medically homebound people living with critical illnesses. They also collected Christmas toys for the Polinsky Children's Center, which provides temporary shelter for children  separated from their families (either for their safety or when parents cannot provide care). And, on December 21, carolers sang traditional Christmas songs for the residents of St. Paul's Villa, a senior center providing memory care and assisted living for the elderly.

San Diego
Christmas carolers from the San Diego Temple visit the elderly residents at St. Paul’s Villa.


Phoenix: This year, the SRF Phoenix Temple had their most successful Thanksgiving food drive ever, collecting hundreds of items that were donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to be distributed to those in need in the Phoenix area. 

Phoenix
Brothers Naradananda (left), Vajrananda (center, in orange) and Devananda (right), the monks who serve at the Phoenix Temple, and lay members of the congregation, with items collected during their Thanksgiving food drive.


Hollywood: For Christmas, members of the SRF Hollywood Temple congregation prepared packages of personal care items and also gave a monetary donation to Covenant House, an organization that helps homeless and runaway teenagers. They also donated funds to a neighboring church that provides food for homeless people in the Hollywood area. Hollywood Temple’s “Temple Singers” performed at nursing homes in the area (as they also do periodically throughout the year).

Hollywood
SRF volunteers in Hollywood, California, prepare packages for homeless teens and runaways at the Covenant House.


Fullerton: SRF members at the SRF Fullerton Temple (including teachers and teens from the Sunday school) spearheaded a food drive to benefit Fullerton Pathways of Hope. One of the members commented that in the four years he has been delivering the food, this year’s collection was the largest amount he had ever seen. 

Fullerton Temple also sponsored a “Spark of Love” toy drive, delivering many toys to the Fullerton Main Fire Station for distribution to children in need. 

Fullerton 20191209 095540
Fullerton’s Main Fire Department receives toys from SRF Fullerton Temple, to be distributed to children in need by local churches.


Glendale: For Thanksgiving, the SRF Glendale Temple collected canned food and dry staples for the Northeast Mental Health Center of Los Angeles County, to distribute to families and individuals in need. For Christmas this year, Glendale Temple members also took an initiative to help the homeless, including organizing a holiday celebration at an emergency winter homeless shelter. They also gave clothing, other gifts, and a monetary donation to the local homeless nonprofit Ascencia.

Glendale


Pacific Palisades: Hosting its 22nd annual “Holiday Gifts for Foster Children” event, the SRF Lake Shrine Temple in Pacific Palisades, California, collected gifts requested by children in the Los Angeles foster care system. Toys such as dolls, gaming devices, bicycles, sporting equipment, clothing and more were gifted to over 300 children this year.  

Lake Shrine
Volunteer leaders for SRF Lake Shrine Holiday Toy Drive in Pacific Palisades, California

SRF Centers and Groups in the United States


Chicago: Throughout December, the Chicago Center of SRF raised funds for Beyond Hunger, which provides groceries, meals, nutrition education, and cooking classes to people in need in the greater Chicago area.  

Chicago
Kids at the SRF Chicago Center help raise funds for Beyond Hunger.


Dallas/Fort Worth: For the sixth  year in a row, the Dallas/Fort Worth Meditation Group of SRF partnered with the Good Samaritans of Garland  a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing food and other assistance to those in need in local communities. The SRF members collected food and toiletries that were packaged for distribution to homeless individuals. 

Dallas
SRF members in Dallas partner with Good Samaritans of Garland to help individuals in local communities.


Atlanta: During the last three Christmas seasons, the devotees of the Atlanta Center of SRF have donated gifts to youth through Covenant House Georgia, which provides material and spiritual support to community teens. In the Atlanta Center’s Fellowship Hall, SRF members placed the gifts around the Center’s Christmas tree, and then delivered them to the shelter, where they were wrapped and distributed. Also, several SRF members volunteer at MUST (Ministers United in Service and Training), supporting homeless and battered women with children.

Atlanta
SRF members in Atlanta volunteer with Ministers United in Service and Training (MUST).


Members  of the New York City Center of SRF coordinated a Thanksgiving Food Drive to benefit City Harvest, a nonprofit that distributes food for needy families. For Christmas, the SRF Sunday school "Spirit of Giving" toy drive encouraged children to shop with their parents to pick out a gift to be given to families at local hospitals and community shelters. The Sunday school children then wrapped the donated gifts as part of their Sunday school class following the center’s “Family Christmas” meditation. 

The Boston Center of SRF donated gift cards for mothers and children served by the Somerville Coalition for the Homeless

The Lexington Meditation Circle of SRF and the Kansas City Meditation Group of SRF both contributed to food banks in their cities to serve the needy. 

And, the Minneapolis Meditation Group of SRF collected funds for Perspectives in St. Louis Park at Christmastime, which used the donations to buy Christmas presents for children whose mothers are in recovery.

SRF Centers and Groups Around the World

Ecuador: Members of the SRF Meditation Group in Cuenca, Ecuador, helped Orphanage Support Services Organization (OSSO) through an initiative called “Pequeños de OSSO,” in which they worked with local businesses to provide clothes, shoes, and medicine for children and adolescents with disabilities. They also donated gifts and provided transportation to seniors in cooperation with a local organization. 

Cuenca Equador
Devotees in Cuenca, Ecuador, support children and adolescents with severe disabilities through the OSSO Foundation.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Members of the SRF Rio de Janeiro Center gave Christmas assistance to the Véras Institute, a nonprofit that depends exclusively on donations and which supports children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. SRF members created dozens of personalized “Christmas kits,” comprised of needed personal hygiene items and clothing, for  patients ranging from five to forty-eight years of age. 

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SRF members of Rio de Janeiro with some of the 82 “Christmas kits” for disabled children and adults at the Véras Institute. They also brought gifts and merriment to the Institute’s Christmas celebration.


Sao Paulo, Brazil: For Christmas, members of the Vila Madalena Meditation Group in São Paulo, Brazil, collected personal hygiene products and non-perishable food items for two charities — one that offers support to new mothers and infants, and another that offers assistance to refugees and immigrants.

Sao Paulo
At the Vila Madalena Meditation Group in São Paolo, Brazil, items collected for charity are offered before an altar of the SRF Gurus to be blessed before they are to be donated.


Salvador, Brazil: The SRF Meditation Group of Piatã in Salvador, Brazil, organized a “Solidarity Campaign” for the Centro de Educação de Infantil São Francis de Assis in Bairrio da Paz, in which they delivered toys, milk powder, sweets, and other gifts for young children during the Christmas season. 

Salvadore
Children at the Centro de Educação de Infantil São Francis de Assis in Salvador, Brazil, delighted in a visit from the SRF Meditation Group of Piatã.


Trapani, Italy: As in past years, the SRF Trapani Meditation Group collected food, toys, and monetary gifts for local religious and charitable organizations to distribute to people in need.  

Trapani Italy
In Trapani, Italy, the SRF Meditation Group collaborates with local churches to deliver food, toys and financial help to people in need.


Rome, Italy: The SRF Rome Center supports La Buona Dimora (“The Gentle Dwelling”) throughout the year. This non-profit association assists families in difficult circumstances to restore healthy, stable relationships between parents and children.

Rome
SRF members in Rome, Italy, collect resources to help families and children through the organization La Buona Dimora (The Gentle Dwelling).

Florence, Italy: The Florence Meditation Group of SRF was inspired to share their joy during the Christmas season by visiting local nursing homes and offering spirited concerts.

Florence
SRF members in Florence bring joy to local nursing homes with Christmas concerts each year

The London Center of SRF partnered with homeless charities, Crisis and Shelter, by raising money during their Christmas social. 

May this season bring peace and joy to all!

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