By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Thanks to the efforts of parishes, schools, businesses and individuals around the Archdiocese of Louisville, hundreds of parents will be able to place gifts for their children under the tree this Christmas.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) has collected and handed out toys and clothing to about 580 families in need at its 19th annual Santa Shop at the Preston Street campus Dec. 13. Hundreds of volunteers turned the agency’s Family Success Center into a mini-department store, grouping donated items by age and gender to make it easier for parents to shop, said Ed Wnorowski, executive director of SVDP.
During the Santa Shop event, needy parents shopped for toys and new clothes to wrap for their children for Christmas. More than 1,000 local children benefited, according to a press release from SVDP.
Among those who received help from the Santa Shop this year are recipients of scholarships from the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF).
Under a new partnership, established in August, the CEF provided scholarships to the children of two families who are SVDP clients. In return, SVDP invited the parents of the 300 neediest children who receive CEF assistance to take part in the Santa Shop, said Linda Romine director of communications for SVDP.
“We are thrilled that SVDP was willing to include these families in their Christmas giving experience,” said Julie Baum, senior director of the CEF. “We are continuing to work with SVDP to invite families in their program to consider a Catholic education for their children. It’s a life-changer for many of these kids.”
The Sister Visitor Center, located at the Catholic Charities West Market Street campus, collected and distributed toys, blankets, hats, gloves, toiletries and household items during the center’s annual Christmas giveaway, which is being held throughout this week.
Ursuline Sister Michele Intravia, who manages the center, said about 1,000 children from 250 families are benefitting from the effort.
Sister Intravia said parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville make the gift giveaway possible.
“They are very generous,” she said. Sister Visitor also collected new clothes from which needy families were able to shop.
The Saint Nick Fund is another non-profit organization that collected and distributed toys to needy children locally.
David Bohn, who operates the Saint Nick Fund with other volunteers at St. Edward Church, said the organization raises money year round for this purpose.
Hundreds of volunteers from Catholic schools and parishes, armed with the organization’s donated funds, fanned out around the city recently to shop for gifts for needy children and families.
“It’s a fantastic thing,” said Bohn. “An act of love and kindness can change a child’s life.”
As part of the project, St. Edward students raised funds to purchase gifts for about 500 students at Engelhard Elementary School in the
Old Louisville neighborhood. Fifty student volunteers from St. Edward visited Englehard Dec. 14 to hand out the gifts.
The Saint Nick Fund also distributed gifts to about 130 foster homes around the city and Maryhurst and Uspiritus Brooklawn, organizations that serve abused and neglected children.