By Jessica Able and Marnie McAllister, Record Staff
Catholic churches, schools and organizations have spent Advent helping other people prepare for Christmas through acts of service, making donations and spending time with people in need.
Among the organizations that have benefitted from these efforts are Sister Visitor Center’s Christmas Giveaway and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Santa Shop. Sister Visitor distributed gifts to more than 225 families and St. Vincent de Paul gave away gifts to more than 1,000 children this week.
St. Vincent de Paul also received a large gift this Advent with the help of DonorsResource.org and the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy.
DonorsResource.org, which connects people who wish to donate items to area non-profit organizations, recently arranged the transfer of a mobile classroom from the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Last summer the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy at Churchill Downs contacted DonorsResource.org seeking assistance with finding an organization that would be able to use its mobile classroom — a converted “tumblebus.”
Linda Romine, the director of communications for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, said the bus will be used as an auxiliaryclassroom for the summer program held at the St. Vincent de Paul campus.
“It will allow us to more effectively manage classroom activities. The kids will be able to break into more age-specific groups,” Romine said.
Originally, funds for the mobile classroom, a customized school bus, were raised by the Church of the Epiphany, Southeast Christian Church and Kosair Charities. The bus was presented to the backside chapel in February 2010.
Christ Chapel is no longer in need of the converted “tumblebus” because of a recent addition to the chapel that will serve as a dedicated space for children, the Rev. Ken Boehm, chaplain of Christ Chapel, said.
“It was donated to us in the first place. We’re just paying it forward,” he said. “It’s only right to give to another organization that could use it.”
The transfer took place Dec. 3 at the Christ Chapel on the backside of Churchill Downs. To learn more about the organization who arranged the transfer visit DonorsResource.org.
Following is a sampling of other holiday help offered around the archdiocese that was reported to The Record.
- More than a dozen Catholic churches and organizations plus other local schools, businesses and families bought Christmas gifts for refugee families resettled in Louisville by Catholic Charities this year. Parishes that participated were St. Agnes, St. Bernard, St. Patrick, St. Martha, St. Bernadette, St. Barnabas, St. Albert the Great, Epiphany, Our Lady of Lourdes, Holy Trinity, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Margaret Mary and St. Pius X. Louisville Young Catholics also sponsored refugees for Christmas.
- Notre Dame Academy’s sixth-grade students collected more than $3,000 to buy Christmas presents for nearly 20 children in need. They spent $2,000 on Dec. 4 shopping for gifts which were donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Gifts from the Heart program. The remainder was donated to Kosair Children’s Hospital.
- Sacred Heart Schools kicked off the season of giving by donating food for the hungry. An estimated 10,000 food items were collected for Kentucky Harvest and Dare to Care.
In addition, Sacred Heart Schools presented an estimated 5,000 Christmas cards signed by students and faculty/staff to the American Red Cross for its annual Holiday Mail for Heroes program. The cards will be delivered to men and women serving in the military.
- St. Gabriel School students collected nearly 10,000 items in a food drive the student council sponsored in November. The collection benefits the food pantry at Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries.
Some of the food was used to make 60 Thanksgiving baskets for families aided by the ministry. The remainder was delivered to the food pantry Dec. 9 and will be used to fill Christmas baskets.
- Holy Spirit Church, 3345 Lexington Road, has started a program called “In His Presence Before Your Presents.” Parishioners and non-parishioners are encouraged to come to the church and pray for the people they are giving gifts to prior to their shopping. Then they take a nine-inch paper star and write the name or names of the people they are praying for. The stars are hung on a 25-foot tree which stands in the parish’s rotunda. The tree was purchased by an anonymous donor. As of Dec. 16 the tree has more than 300 stars. The tree will be lit for the first time following the 5 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve.
- Community Catholic Center’s families were scheduled to have a Christmas celebration this evening, Dec. 19, to launch the center’s 10th anniversary celebration. Sacred Heart Academy students and a group of adults who belong to a small faith-sharing group volunteered for the event.
- St. Andrew Academy students have been busy this season with a variety of service activities.
Students wrote cards to members of the military and veterans to give thanks for their service. They also wrote to prisoners who are part of a prison ministry program.
The school’s students also took part in a food drive with the firefighters from Pleasure Ridge Park.
On Dec. 5, the school’s basketball teams, who raised money in November during a basketball jamboree, bought $1,700 worth of gifts to aid families on the Angel Tree at St. Peter the Apostle Church.
- Twelve Trinity High School students and faculty members from the school’s Green Cross club set up a “Christmas store” at Wayside Christian Mission Dec. 16. The students and faculty handed out toys and other gifts for children, which were donated by stores and church groups.