We’ve been busy for a few weeks organizing our Thanksgiving project; I’m really pleased with all the people that have contacted me to ‘adopt’ a family and provide them with a basket.  As usual, St Mary School and staff, St Mark’s and UNCW are all participating. Several people have given us funds to purchase more baskets, and many have volunteered to help us next week when we distribute everything; looking forward to the big day on November 26.

I must admit I’m one of those people that doesn’t like seeing Christmas decorations on display until after Thanksgiving …. But due to the time we need to prepare for all of our Christmas events, we will be starting next weekend.  We’ll have our “Giving Tree” on display in the vestibule of the Basilica.  As of this writing, we are still signing families up for Christmas; I don’t know how many we’ll have yet, but it’s usually about 35.  I personally interview the parent and determine the appropriate gifts.  For each family, we provide clothes and gifts for each child, a present for the parent(s) and a basket of food for their holiday dinner.  We have several ways of gathering the presents. Some individuals and businesses adopt a family – they provide all of the gifts as well as the basket of food; each class at St Mary School adopts one child and gathers clothes and gifts.

For many of the families, we utilize our Giving Tree to gather gifts. (Sister Isaac named this project many years ago, inspired by the Shel Silverstein book.)  We make up leaves to identify items needed.  Examples of leaves would be   “a baby-doll for Karen, age 5”; “pajamas, size 10 for Matthew, age 9” or “a learning toy for Alyssa, age 2”.  Each child will have about 6 leaves on the tree.  For more expensive items, and for dinner, we hang leaves asking for funds. Examples of these might be “$10 towards dinner for Monica’s family”; “$10 towards pots and pans for Maria”; “$10 towards a coat for John”.  In this way, we gather the funds in small amounts, then I send out shoppers to purchase the more expensive items.

The gifts can be brought to mass over the next few weeks, or dropped off at the Center during our normal hours.  There’s no need to wrap the gifts; we allow the parents to do that so they can feel like they are participating.  I’ve been working at the Center for 14 years now, and I’ve been in charge of the Giving Tree for 13 years; I have a group of loyal elves that have been my helpers for years, and as much work as it is for all of it, we really love it. So please forgive us for putting our tree up before Thanksgiving … and consider helping us spread Christmas joy.

Next week, I’ll explain the details of our two other Christmas projects.