The Agape Canister Program

By Andrew Anderson

DID YOU KNOW . . . . ?

. . . That Orthodox Volunteers have been placing canisters in grocery stories and restaurants all across the United States and Canada for the last seven years?

. . . That these same Agape Canister Partners have collectively raised over $450,000 in nickels and dimes from the general public?

. . . That these Agape funds have been helping the needy in over 14 countries on four continents?

. . . That the Agape Canister Program is fully Pan-Orthodox and belongs to the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (S.C.O.B.A.)?

Did you know that you too can join this united effort and become an Agape Canister Partner today?

Here are some ANSWERS to a few BASIC QUESTIONS about the Program.

What Does “Agape” Mean?

“Agape” is the Greek word for selfless, unconditional love.

What is the purpose of the Agape Canister Program?

As an Orthodox non-profit development program, the Agape Canister Program is dedicated to meeting the needs of children, families, and communities throughout the world regardless of race, color, or creed. Funds collected through this program are earmarked for medical care, agricultural development, the building of schools, providing clothing, supporting medical clinics and personnel (e.g., doctors, nurses, teachers), constructing water wells, and educating indigenous people in their own communities.

Who runs the Agape Canister Program?

The Program is administered by the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (O.C.M.C.), which is the Mission and Evangelism Agency of S.C.O.B.A.

In December of 1993, S.C.O.B.A. accepted into its jurisdiction the former Greek Archdiocesan Mission Center, located in St. Augustine, Florida. A new name - the Orthodox Christian Mission Center - was coined, and a new era of greater inter-jurisdictional cooperation in North America in the field of Orthodox missionary activity was launched. Now the Mission Center - together with all of its programs, including the Agape Canister Program - belongs to all canonical Orthodox Christians in North America. Its work is the work of all of us.

What is an Agape Canister Partner?

An Agape Canister Partner is an Orthodox Christian who has agreed to place a few canisters in cooperating neighborhood businesses, restaurants, stores, gas stations, or mini-markets, near their cash registers. Then, on a regular basis, this Agape Partner collects the money that others have contributed and sends it in each month to the Orthodox Christian Mission Center.

Who can be an Agape Canister Partner?

Agape Canister Partners include retired people, business people, homemakers, Sunday School classes, college students, professionals, and teenagers. Ladies groups and senior citizens make wonderful Agape Partners. All it takes is compassion, commitment, and a few minutes of one’s time.

Who benefits from the Agape Canister Program?

The poor do, and so do the Agape Partners. Since its inception in 1988, over $450,000 has been collected. Recipients have included people in Alaska, Cameroon, Chad, Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire.

Specific examples of the usage of Agape funds include:

1) Development of an Orthodox Medical Clinic in Kenya, providing medical supplies, staff and support, and the bringing of water and electricity to the clinic and the entire village community.

2) Support of orphanages in Ethiopia and Mexico.

3) Expansion of cottage industries established by the Orthodox Church in Haiti.

4) Support of a rural development project in India.

5) Assistance in the education of Aleut and Tlingit students attending St. Herman’s Orthodox Seminary in Kodiak, Alaska.

6) Cooperation in a health program in Uganda which immunized nearly 2,000 children against six deadly diseases.

7) Support for a children’s rehabilitation center for Arab children in Bethlehem.

8) Assistance in rebuilding a school in former Czechoslovakia.

9) Help in underwriting a water project in Cameroon.

Each quarter all Agape Canister Partners receive a copy of the Agape Partners Newsletter—free of charge—updating them on how the Agape Canister Program is caring for hurting people around the world. Yet the greatest reward of all is knowing that the effort they put forth each month is doing a world of good.

How can I get involved?

Simple. Fill out the application below and drop it in the mail. Along with your canisters, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center will provide you with everything you need—start-up instructions, envelopes, postage, and report sheets which you mail in with each collection. It does not cost you a penny to help the Agape Canister Program. If you have any further questions, please contact the Agape Canister Coordinator at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, using the address and telephone number printed below.

It is Orthodox Christians getting together to help the poor.
It is a concrete sign of the uniting of our forces.
In the end, it is just a lot of COMMON CENTS.

Andrew Anderson, a St. Tikhon’s graduate, is Agape Canister Coordinator at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, St. Augustine, FL.