Staying involved in the Bloomington/Normal area, and beyond. 
Where do you fit... Beyond the Bricks?
Welcome... to the latest issue of
Beyond the Bricks!
Merry Christmas!

Christmas is just over two weeks away. Are you ready?

One of the traditions associated with Christmas is exchanging gifts. It’s a way to express our love, friendship, and appreciation to those who are close to us.

Christmas is also a time to give gifts to institutions and causes that are important to us. From dropping our change in a Salvation Army bucket to leaving a toy for Toys-for-Tots, from volunteering at a shelter to making a special year end contribution to an organization, we demonstrate our support for groups that make our community and our world better places.

This issue of Beyond the Bricks offers you several opportunities to give of your time and money. Please read it through to see whether there’s something that you would like to support.

May these days before Christmas be a time of joy as we await the coming of our Savior.

Jim Warren
Support Faith in Action Tonight by Eating Portillos
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 
4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Show flyer (found on the FIA Facebook page or at the Flyer button below) at the drive thru window.
*Not valid with Online Orders nor the purchase of Gift Certificates.
Attend Black Lives Matter in B/N Book Club's Public Discussion of the Book The Men We Reaped
Thursday, December 17, 2020 
7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
This is public Zoom discussion of Mississippi writer Jesmyn Ward's 2013 256-page memoir about the deaths of five Black men in her life, including her own brother. Our intersectional book club welcomes everybody. Feel free to invite a friend.

Sing Along with a Production of Handel's Messiah
Saturday, December 19, 2020 
1:00 p.m.
Sing along at home to excerpts from the 2019 performance of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Cappella Festiva, with lyrics on the screen and commentary by Guest Conductor Christine Howlett.

Premiers December 19 at 2pm EST. This video will be available to watch any time after its premier on our YouTube channel through the new year.

Made possible through the generous support of Rhinebeck Bank, the Dr. Edwin Ulrich Charitable Trust, the Bruderhof and WMHT FM 89.1 Schenectady and WRHV.
Participate in the Christmas Eve Jingle 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020 
6:00 p.m.
On Christmas Eve at 6:00 p.m. (wherever you live) go outside onto your doorstep and ring a bell for 2 minutes to spread Christmas spirit and to help Santa fly his sleigh. Many of your fellow subscribers are planning to do this, too!

Let's make a fantastic memory for children and adults alike, ending 2020 with a bit of magic, hope, and togetherness!
Send Greetings and Encouragement to Front-Line Care Workers  

With recommended restrictions on gatherings, a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, approaching holidays, and weather that will likely limit our opportunities to be together outside, you are encouraged to reach out with support to Carle BroMenn and Carle Eureka staff. 

Please write cards of thanks, support, or encouragement. Please do NOT deliver directly to the hospital. A container for collecting cards is in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1613 E Emerson, Bloomington. Rev. Christine, Rev. Renfroe, and Terina Carter, Delegate Church Association Chair, will coordinate getting the cards where they need to be. 

If you would like to do a little more, individually wrapped treats like energy bars, drinks, dark chocolate, or coffee shop gift cards are always appreciated. Those can also be delivered to the container in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Keep in mind:
  • The cards do not need to be holiday related since some may be distributed after the holidays. 
  • The cards will go to all staff.
  • The cards do not need to be individually addressed. If you would like cards to go to your Partners in Healing department, please collect everything in one bag or envelope labelled with the name of your department. 
  • Each card should be signed and include the faith community you represent. 
  • If you need ideas for what to write inside the cards, click More Info below.
Help with the Baby Fold's Christmas Wish List  
Many children who receive services through The Baby Fold would not otherwise receive Christmas gifts if it weren’t for the generous hearts of friends like YOU. Our children are eagerly writing their wish lists and YOU can help turn them into Christmas morning magic! There are several ways you can get involved:

  • Adopt a Wish List for one or more children. Lists consist of 2-3 items with a requested spending limit of $50-$60 per list.
  • Make a monetary gift so we can fill the wish lists that don’t get ‘adopted’ by the community.
  • Donate gift cards for older children and teenagers to pick out their perfect gift.
  • Visit to adopt a list and learn more, or contact Sam Guillory at or (309) 451-7202.

Thank you for helping to create a magical and joyous Christmas experience for the children of The Baby Fold!
Support Toys for Tots 
Various Locations
US Marine Corps Reserves are collecting and distributing new toys to needy
McLean County children through community holiday assistance programs.
Monetary donations are very much appreciated, as well. Donated toys can be dropped off mid-November through the first part of December at varying locations throughout the Bloomington/Normal area.
Support the Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest
West Bloomington is known as a food desert because many people in the community lack access to affordable fresh vegetables. Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest, located at the west end of Illinois Street in Bloomington, was established May of 2016 by Col Connelly and Jan Turner to help combat this lack of access.

The mission of Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest is to provide fresh, organic produce to low-income families in West Bloomington and to facilitate learning opportunities for children and adults through gardening, harvesting, and marketing food grown on site, using sustainable practices.

If you would like to make an online donation to the Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest Fund, or to learn more about the garden and its efforts, please click on the button below.
Volunteer at or Donate to the WBRP 
(West Bloomington Revitalization Project)
724 W. Washington Street
Bloomington, IL 61701
Focus on the Tool Library:  The Tool Library is open for walk-in customers! Tool Library hours are Tuesday & Thursday 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday & Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
Because the library is a small space, and to protect our customers and volunteers, we can only allow one person to browse at a time. Make an appointment with the button below or by calling the WBRP at 309-829-1200. You can also just stop by the building during our open hours. You can check the inventory in advance at
The WBRP has many goals:
Driven by the voice of residents, the WBRP leads impactful, collaborative efforts of neighbors and local stakeholders that honor our historical and cultural roots, build on the pride and strengths of our neighborhoods and empower residents to be leaders and achieve a vision for a better community.
Maybe you can help! Find out more by clicking the button below. And the WBRP is hiring, so check out their website for details. 

First Christian Church || 309 829-9327 |
401 West Jefferson St. Bloomington, IL 61701
Bloomington's Oldest Continuing Congregation