As families feel the pinch, a parish responds

Volunteers loaded Thanksgiving baskets onto a rolling cart the morning of Nov. 18. The baskets, donated by Immaculate Heart of Mary Church parishioners, were given to folks in the community. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

A rise in food prices and other living expenses has added financial pressure to family budgets. Some families are feeling that pinch for the first time, said Sue Wagner, a family resource coordinator for Jefferson County Traditional Middle School.

She’s seen an increase in need among school families, which she attributes not only to rising costs but also to the change in school schedules in Jefferson County Public Schools. The district introduced new schedules this school year, staggering start times from 7:40 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. and dismissal times from 2:20 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.

“I’ve seen parents lose jobs because they have three students in three different schools with three different start times,” she said. “And someone has to be home with them.”

Valerie Boone, center, led volunteers in prayer when they gathered at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church to distribute Thanksgiving baskets to those in need in the community. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

Families who have never requested assistance are reaching out this year, she said.

She found help for them the morning of Nov. 18 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, where she picked up Thanksgiving baskets for school families. She called the baskets “a blessing for her students and families.” 

Parishioners spent the morning packing and distributing 60 baskets for schools, group homes and individuals who are food insecure or who might just need some extra help this year.

The church is located in the Park DuValle neighborhood and is one of the only Catholic churches “on this side of Algonquin Parkway,” said parishioner Valerie Boone. “So it’s important for churches in our community to be present to respond to the needs of the community. … We want to bless people with the blessings (Jesus) has given us.”

Angela Boone, Valerie Boone’s sister and fellow Immaculate Heart of Mary parishioner, is the family resource center coordinator at Breckinridge Franklin Elementary School. 

Members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church loaded Thanksgiving baskets into a wagon the morning of Nov. 18. They volunteered to deliver the baskets to folks in need in the community. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

She was tasked with distributing nearly 30 Thanksgiving baskets to school families in need. In the past, she distributed about five baskets a year. 

“I have families who have never asked me for food asking me for food this year,” she said. “They’re asking for basics, not frills.”

In the past, Angela Boone has been able to rely heavily on business partners in the community to provide holiday meals for school families. In recent years, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduced the amount of aid those community partners can donate, she said. Thankfully, she said, her parish continues to show up and has risen to meet the need.

“I see footprints of the church all through the community in the help they’re giving the families in our community,” she said. “We’re a small church but we’re doing about 60 boxes. We think it’s very important. Disparity of food in our area is very real, so we’re trying to do our part.”

Ashia Powell, Immaculate Heart of Mary’s social concerns committee chair, said in past years the committee held a collection and then did all the shopping and basket packing themselves. Last year they asked parishioners to sponsor baskets which led to increased involvement. 

As volunteers packed their vehicles with baskets, Powell looked on cheerfully. 

“I love this part of church,” she said. “I love giving back.” 

Angela Boone, left, and Ashia Powell, parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, wheeled Thanksgiving baskets to Boone’s car the morning of Nov. 18. Boone was able to distribute nearly 30 baskets to students and their families at Breckinridge Franklin Elementary where she works. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)
Angela Boone
Kayla Bennett
Written By
Kayla Bennett
More from Kayla Bennett
Tribunal needs volunteers to serve
those seeking annulments
While the Metropolitan Tribunal assists the archbishop’s office in determining whether marriages...
Read More
0 replies on “As families feel the pinch, a parish responds”