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Creativity Is A Way To Share Our Essence With The World This Christmas

 A Ten-Year Old’s Personal Touch On Christmas Giving

By Jessica O’Connor

The Cardinal Spellman Center in the East Village is stacked with shelves of boxes from retailers as diverse as the faces of our city. Some are already wrapped, but the majority were ordered online this year. Every day, between 20 and 100+ more boxes arrive, transported via Zipcar by staff from the main Catholic Charities office building in midtown. Volunteers and staff open each group of boxes (which are numbered according to their destination family), pack the enclosed gifts into bags with color-coded labels, and sort the bags into groups awaiting pick-up by Catholic Charities’ affiliated agencies and final distribution to our beneficiaries. Each delivery of boxes represents both help and hope for a struggling New York family during this holiday season.

The Catholic Charities St. Nicholas Project’s Adopt-a-Family Program runs from the beginning of November until January. Participants are matched with a family in need of support and provided with some information about that family; they then shop for each individual family member, purchasing gifts such as toys, winter coats, hats, gloves, and other surprises to brighten up the Christmas tree. In 2019, our St. Nicholas project served more than 4,400 individuals, with $300,000 donated and more than 400 volunteers showing up to fill shopping carts with gifts. This year, most of the shopping is happening online. Even so, the outpouring of generosity that we have seen against the bleak backdrop of the ongoing pandemic has been nothing less than a Christmas miracle.

One special donor who decided to help this year is a 10-year-old girl with a big heart and an artistic touch. Our young benefactor used her allowance money to purchase supplies to create 20 “pom-pom animals,” which she packaged into individual gifts bags for children in need. The girl’s mother is also making a matching donation through her company. We are inspired by all our St. Nicholas participants, young and old, who put their creative talents and generous hearts to good use to spread the love and joy of Christmas among families thirsting for hope.