Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Faith In Action: Reading Is Fundamental

Materials for Activity

  • Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) donation forms

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out In Memory Of donation forms from the RIF website or call the Donor Relations Desk at 1-888-725-4801 to request forms.

Description of Activity

Participants discover ways of memorializing a loved one. If your congregation recognizes the Day of the Dead or holds another service in remembrance of the dead, consider connecting this service activity to that event. (Do not have the activity at a memorial service.)

Say to the participants:

Poetry and other forms of writing offer constructive ways of talking about difficult issues. They can also be used to comfort us when our minds and hearts are troubled. The death of a loved one can be such a time. Many UUs hold memorial services for the dead, and often readings of poetry, prose, or selections from a holy book are part of these services. These readings might be favorites of the deceased person or they might be meant to comfort the living. Sometimes a person will request a specific reading for his/her own memorial service. Has anyone ever attended a memorial service during which poetry was read?

Ask if anyone has ever known a family to request that, in lieu of flowers, friends of the deceased give a donation to an organization. Tell them that RIF is one such organization that accepts memorial donations. One of RIF's programs includes giving away free books to schoolchildren.

Discuss the following questions:

  • Is anyone familiar with RIF? If so, let them tell about the organization. If not, explain that RIF is the nation's oldest and largest non-profit literacy program for children and families. Although many people associate RIF with young children, they also have programs that work toward increasing the high school completion rate in underserved communities and a multicultural literacy campaign. RIF distributes sixteen million free books to children every year.
  • How does the work of RIF relate to our UU values?
  • Is there anything spiritual about helping RIF, through donations or otherwise?

Ask participants how promoting memorial donations to RIF would put our UU faith in action. If the group decides to pursue this activity, arrange a time to set up a table after a worship service and accept donations. You will need information about RIF, pens, and donation forms at the table. Decorate the table with children's books. Distribute the donation forms and review the information needed. If you provide the online form, note that it asks for a credit card, but donors can choose to mail in a check instead.

Other ways in which this activity could be used are: ask the group to contribute money and donate the money to RIF in memory of past members of your congregation or deceased congregational ministers (RIF accepts a fifteen dollar minimum); or, if your congregation celebrates a Blessing of the Animals, decorate your donation table with children's books about animals and seek contributions in honor of deceased pets.

After the event, discuss with participants what the experience was like for them and what they gained from it.