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Holiday celebrations in ministries

Christmas at Theresa Living Center

By Sister Rita Jirik

Deck the halls, trim the tree, fill out the wish list! Anticipation is in the air. Theresa Living Center residential home and Caroline Family Services scattered sites program are ready to celebrate the season, along with everyone else.

Sisters Rita Jirik and Paulissa Jirik volunteer at the Theresa Living Center (TLC) in St. Paul, Minnesota, during the holiday season. They are wrapping gifts for the clients of TLC.

Weeks before Christmas, a variety of church groups and organizations express their wish to “adopt” families in order to share their Christmas spirit with them. One of the volunteers matches the single women and women with families, with someone in one of the churches or organizations by asking the women to share a Christmas wish list. Women request clothing, basic household needs to be used in their apartment or in anticipation of a future apartment, as is the case of the women in the residential home. Every mom requests a toy for each child along with a clothing item with their favorite character. As Christmas nears, gifts come in from the donors and are distributed to the families. As volunteers, we witness a joyous time. We see happy, grateful faces of moms as they claim their gifts. Women ask how they can express their thanks. Many have never experienced this type of gifting and are overwhelmed. The need to acknowledge this gesture from so many others, they do not even know is a sign for us as volunteers, that sharing is the greatest gift of all.


December gift giveaway

By Sister Adaire Lassonde

Sister Adiare Lassonde and a reciepient of MORE's services pose for a photo during the Holiday season of "gift giving."

Each year in December, MORE  gives over 200 new American families brand new gifts in just two days. The distribution is different, in that it is focused on distributing basic needs items like cold weather clothing, blankets, rice cookers, dishes, etc. When this service first began, many toys were donated. It became obvious that the participants almost always bypassed the toys and went right to the blankets, towels, jackets, hats/mittens, etc. Families did this because that’s what they needed most. Because there are other resources available for free toys in St. Paul, Minnesota, it was decided to focus solely on the most basic necessities that families need to feel cared for and be comfortable.

Families register ahead of time to be able to participate in one of two days. The gifts are divided into categories and the family member gets told how many gifts they can have from each group. As it turns out, the more donations given, the more the participants are able to take.

Most donations come from Catholic parishes, but many other faith groups have joined in to make the giveaway a very substantial service.


Feed My People

By Sister Joyce Engle

Feed My People sits on a roadside hill:
South St. Louisans pass it when interstate bound;
But inside, miracles happen –
Not huge, monstrous, strange happenings,
But small deeds done in love: miracles.

As Christmas nears, the miracles multiply:
Toys and games, dolls and action figures line up.
Children’s clothes are heaped on shelves and racks:
Indeed, Christmas is as near as a mom’s heart.

One small room holds the Giving Tree.
Gracious volunteers offer care and advice:
Moms and dads check over the possibilities:
The spirit of Christmas fills Feed My People.

The thing is, there’s another miracle at work.
All that you see, every toy, every shirt –
Each is a gift from a caring person…
Those passerby who stop to give.

Feed My People operates on kindness and generosity;
Feed My People has heard the Call.


Learn more about the above ministries.

Thinking of giving service this holiday season? Check out our many SSND ministries to see how you can help!


Want to learn more?


School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



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