This past week we were recipients of a wonderful gift from another parish.  It was a result of one of their Christmas activities.

St Thomas More is a parish in Chapel Hill NC.  I received a call in mid-December informing me that we were chosen to be one of their recipients of their Christmas project, the Giving Tree (coincidentally the same name we use for our tree.)  This is a project they implemented 5 years ago, and it’s been growing ever since.

It’s an intergenerational program. The director of faith development works with the children to make artistic ornaments to go on two trees.  This year, each ornament had requests for $25 gift cards from Walmart, Food Lion or Target.  These stores were chosen for their accessibility and broad spectrum of product offerings.  The tree is decorated with all the ornaments and put on display during the early Sundays of Advent; there’s a poster suggesting people choose an ornament which is theirs to keep, and return the requested gift card in the next collection.  The tree is staffed after mass each weekend by some of their parishioners including Catholic Daughters and the Knights; they are on hand to answer questions and encourage participation.  The project is well ‘advertised’ in their bulletin, through emails and at mass.

The project team gets together each year to choose their recipients; in their discussions, they look for those who are at a significant disadvantage due to unforeseen issues they have had to combat and would welcome a surprise gift.  We were chosen since we serve a large number of people, and we were in an area which was significantly impacted by the hurricanes.  The other recipients were local DSS agencies in Chatham and Orange County that support the Foster Care program and the Glenmary Mission friars in Bertie County.

Although their intention was for us to receive their gifts the week before Christmas, there was a delay since the building was closed; we were afraid the package was lost, but it turned out to be locked in a safe at the post office, waiting for me to pick it up. We were blessed with 85 gift cards (35 for Walmart and 50 for Target) for a total value of $2125.  (And we were just one of the recipients!)

Our thanks goes out to Fr Scott McCue, his staff and parishioners for helping those we serve; the cards will go to good use to help our guests with gas for their vehicles, as well as household items they need.

This is just another example of how fortunate we are to have donors near and far; over the holidays, we received donations from around the state, as well as around the country. Obviously, (thanks to Sister Isaac), our reputation precedes us!