Gifts for Jesus

by John Calhoun

Since 2012, the kindergarteners through third graders at Owensboro Catholic K3 Campus have collected much-needed donations for the people of our missions. While at the outset, this may sound like a very mundane story, the fact of the matter is the Sisters and students have developed quite the magical experience for both parties.

The whole idea began with one of our Glenmary Guild members, Janie Payne, and her daughter, Vanessa Calvin, a teacher at the K3. As an Advent project, Ms. Calvin wanted her class to collect items our missions could use. The idea soon grew to the entire school participating. It was decided each grade would collect a specific need: winter items, baby items, personal hygiene, or cleaning supplies.

Over the years, this incredibly generous school, its students, and parents have continued this Advent tradition. These days, we have the operation of collecting, organizing, and distributing down to a science, but this wasn’t always the case. For example, that first year, Sr. Sharon and I arrived at the school not really knowing what to expect. We had one SUV and one sedan. We were sure that would be enough room, but when the children began bringing out their offerings, we quickly realized there was no way we would be able to receive all these gifts. Luckily, a friend of the Sisters who also worked for the school system was there with his truck. When all was said and done, the SUV, sedan, and a truck were filled with donations. When we finally got it unloaded at the mother house, Sr. Sharon sat in the middle of a mountain of unorganized donations and cried joyful tears seeing the kindness in the form of soaps, shampoo, gloves and sock caps.

These days, we are better prepared. We arrive with a 16-foot trailer with large labeled boxes to accept the different donations. Thanks to the school staff, a system of having the children bring their gifts out, place them into a designated box, receive a small gift from the Sisters, and get back in the school quickly, makes the operation run smoothly.

The donations are immediately brought back to the mother house, separated by mission, and generally delivered to the missions within 48 hours.

All said and done, this small idea one caring teacher had has now become a tradition we look forward to each year; the smiles on the kids’ faces when giving their gifts and the joy we have in helping those in our missions, have come together in a joyful way.