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The HUGS program, and subsequently, the Matthew 25 website, was first discussed after a Creative Arts festival in which it was the scriptural theme. It came about from the desire to instill and nurture generous spirits in the children of our church schools. Could there be a way, a simple way, that giving would become second-nature to the children, so that it would be in their adult life as Christ mandated? Our attempt is this website.


The HUGS acronym stands for Hands Used for God’s Service. It is Kh. Gigi Shadid’s idea developed in cooperation with the Department of Christian Education. HUGS is the first step on the road to Matthew 25.

In Kh. Gigi’s words, HUGS involves a vision—to embody Christ’s commission in Matthew 25:31-46 (focusing on those who are: hungry, thirsty, naked, prisoners, strangers, & sick); a mission—to engage our church school children in acts of service, both small and great, and a purpose—to use our hands in various ways of service so that the children may see the face of Christ in those they serve. “Do it to the least of these my brethren and you do it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).


The Least of These
by Kh. Gigi Shadid (Theme song from Creative Festivals 2013)



In the early church, deacons were ordained to care for the needy Christians. Service became a permanent aspect of our faith. HUGS is followed by Orthodox programs of service for older teens, as well as for adults. Each organization’s link will take you to their website. These are a few of several opportunities to become involved.

  • The YES Program aims to present to youth and young adults the one true Way of life in Christ--dying to oneself in order to serve the needs of others.
  • Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage perform works of mercy, and help others do works of mercy in the name of Jesus Christ, transcending cultural barriers by building homes for the poor in Mexico and by providing a home for orphaned boys.
  • Built on a foundation of fellowship, education, worship, and service, Real Break provides students the opportunity to understand the true meaning of seeing Christ in the other--traveling to all parts of the world deepening their faith, serving those in need, and cultivating relationships with like-minded peers.
  • As an expression of Christ’s love FOCUS North America serves the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned by providing Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding, and Shelter.

If your organization would like to join us in fulfilling our calling laid out in Matthew 25 or for more information please contact Leslie at