2020 Christmas Service at St. Mary's
The Christmas season at St. Mary’s is one of the students’ favorites, and this year is no different. Service Coordinator Caitlin Whitty ’08 and her Advent Service Team are hard at work to make this year just as special and fulfilling. St. Mary’s students are eagerly signing up to spread joy through safe, socially-distant service projects from home. Following are a few of the projects the Service Team has planned for this holiday season:
For Thanksgiving, SMA students worked with St. Philip Neri Catholic Church and Catholic Charities to write 200 notes of love and encouragement to accompany supply kits for houseless community members.
For more than 40 years, SMA has partnered with downtown neighbor Northwest Pilot Project to serve meals at their annual holiday dinner. This Advent season, students will instead create ornaments for Northwest Pilot Project Christmas gift bags. Students are also assisting downtown neighbor Terwilliger Plaza by decorated stockings. Once the stockings are decorated, Terwilliger Plaza residents will fill them with essential items for IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization) refugee families.
The Service Team is in the early stages of launching a new program designed to establish pen pal relationships with senior parishioners throughout the Portland area. This program will operate in partnership with St. Philip, St. Andrew, St. John Fisher, and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at Mary’s Woods. St. Mary’s students will commit to monthly letter writing through the remainder of the school year with hopes for an in-person event when groups are again allowed to gather.
While this school year and the holiday season are different from year's past, students continue to show up in support of our community. For the first year in school history, the Advent Service Team is solely student-directed. As a part of the Advent service redesign, the Advent Service Team has been hard at work transforming the St. Mary’s Christmas Basket program into a virtual Christmas Giving Tree for Woodlawn Elementary families. In addition to their classroom responsibilities, Woodlawn’s faculty and staff work tirelessly throughout the year to help Woodlawn families with everything from rent assistance to providing a weekly food pantry. Caitlin shares, “we are proud to support Woodlawn’s community by giving their students and families especially joy-filled Christmas celebrations, and I’m so proud of our students for rising to the occasion and finding ways to do good in the world."