Parish Outreach

Clarke Parish BELIEVES in Outreach!

“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Luke 3:11

Outreach is vital to us in Clarke Parish. We are active locally, and we always look for ways to help nationally and internationally through monetary support and mission trips.

Clarke Parish is involved in many local projects. These include the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS), community dinners, service projects, and other activities to help our neighbors in our community.

We have collected school supplies, non-food products for FISH, and gifts for the Clarke County Social Services Holiday Assistance Program.

Clarke Parish is actively involved in weekly food distribution to children in the Clarke County School System through the Back Pack Ministry. Each child is provided seven meals, milk, juice, and snacks every weekend. In the past five years, we have donated an average of more than 10,000 meals to local school children annually.

Meeting space in our Parish Halls has been donated free of charge to groups like Alcohol Anonymous, scout troops, and the Adventure Club.

Parish Outreach: Clarke Parish - Fighting Hunger
Parish Outreach: Clarke Parish - Fighting Hunger

For several years Clarke Parish has provided monetary support to the Least of These Foundation, whose primary focus is educating and feeding 250 children in Haiti.

Mission trips were once a highlight of our Outreach, and they are something we look forward to reviving. We have been able to help with disaster relief and building projects in places like New York; New Orleans; Priest Lake, Idaho; Wasilla, Alaska; and the Shrine Mont Episcopal Retreat at Basye, Virginia.

The Clarke County Outreach Committee meets several times a year to distribute funds designated for outreach. Much of this money is generated by the Wade Fowler Trust. Donations are given to local, national, and international charities. During the Covid pandemic of 2020 the decision was made to focus our support on charities helping people with food, housing, healthcare and other needs.

In 2020 our Outreach Program donated $8600 to the following organizations:

Local Winchester Salvation Army
Laurel Center for Domestic Violence
Winchester Rescue Mission
Halfway House – Lord Fairfax Council on Alcoholism
Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Sinclair Winchester Free Medical Clinic
Enders Fire and Rescue Company
Clarke Parish Backpack Ministry

National and International
United Mission to Nepal Clinics
Episcopal Relief and Development Covid-19 Response
Episcopal Relief and Development US Disaster Relief
Least of These Foundation in Haiti

Clarke Parish Outreach Committee
Co-chairs: Margaret Burks, Nadine Pluchinsky
Members: Melissa Casey, Tara Flaten, Bob Holmes

The next Outreach Committee meeting is TBA.

To learn how you can get involved, contact Clarke Parish at or (540) 955-1610. You can also visit our volunteer opportunities page to discover how you can get involved in the community.

We also undertake specific projects that allow hands-on involvement and a greater sense of participation by parishioners of all ages.  Some of these Outreach projects include:

The Backpack Food Ministry

The Backpack Ministry is an exciting, vibrant ministry of Clarke Parish to feed hungry children in the Clarke County community. Donated meals are sent home for children who have been identified by their school guidance counselors. Each weekend and holiday, the identified students take home bags packed with breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. They also receive juice, milk, and snacks.

The entire congregation has generously supported the Backpack Ministry. Along with a number of other local individuals, many parishioners are actively involved on a weekly or monthly basis. Volunteers from Clarke Parish purchase food, organize supplies, communicate with schools, pack bags, and deliver food to the schools every week during the school year. At Grace Church we pack for an average of 40 local children who receive food each week. During the 2017 – 2018 school year, more than 14,000 meals were packed at Grace Church for Clarke County children in need.

Other Clarke County churches work with us and with the local schools to pack for an additional 40 – 50 children. The Backpack Ministry is truly a wonderful way for us to serve God in our own community.

Food Distribution
Clarke County Department of Social Services

Each February, parishioners from Clarke Parish volunteer to set-up and staff the monthly food give away, as well as, pay for the 2+ tons of food delivered from the local food bank!  This is a worthwhile Outreach project that allows our volunteers an opportunity to interact with community neighbors that require a little extra assistance.  It’s a good workout too – some heavy lifting and scurrying around filing all those food boxes.

Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS)

The Winchester area has an ever-increasing homeless population.  As a response to help during the winter months, the WATTS program was initiated.  Its good works has spread to Clarke County when the Clarke County Ruritan graciously donates its main building and it is transformed into a temporary thermal shelter for a week each January. Clarke Parish, other local churches, and service organizations each volunteer to sponsor the WATTS program for a day by hosting overnight guests from 6 pm until 6 am the following day.  We provide hot meals, a warm bed, social time, games, and over night supervision.  In addition to staffing the shelter, Clarke Parish holds a coat drive in the weeks leading up to WATTS.  We collect gently used coats, mittens, cold-weather gear, socks and toiletries for distribution to the ‘guests’.

Operation Christmas Child

Initiated in 2010.  Since then we have participated each year hosting a ‘Packaging Party’ in November.  Youth and grown-ups alike come to the fellowship hall ready and able to pack shoe boxes full of donated trinkets and treasure for less fortunate children around the globe.  This is a project we look forward to all year! We currently stand at 702 gift boxes!

Our packaging track record to date:

  • 2018 – Hiatus
  • 2017 – 78 boxes
  • 2016 – 90 boxes
  • 2015 – 104 boxes
  • 2014 – 82 boxes
  • 2013 – 62 boxes
  • 2012 – 98 boxes
  • 2011 – 141 boxes
  • 2010 – 47 boxes

Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)
Gifts for Life Campaign

Commonly referred to as THE PIG FUND” around here, we encourage monetary donations from ALL members of the church community. From special offerings taken during Children’s Church and “Big” Church, to pancake suppers and coffee hour feast, there is nothing we won’t do to collect a few extra pennies to add to the collection jar.  Initiated in October 2010, the project has raised over $13,000 allowing us to purchase:

  • 17 pigs
  • 17 goats
  • 84 chickens
  • 62 mosquito nets
  • 3 cows
  • 2 ox
  • 2 plow
  • 1 bee box
  • 5 donkeys w/plow & cart
  • postnatal care & medical supplies
  • 6 disaster relief kits
  • energy efficient cookstoves
  • family gardens
  • community gardens
  • trees for reforestation
  • 1 rainwater cache system & purifier