EAST PROVIDENCE — This Christmas, parishes, schools and organizations throughout Rhode Island have mothers on their giving lists. Many have taken up special collections of items to be donated to St. Gabriel’s Call, a ministry of the Diocese of Providence that provides families with diapers, toiletries, cribs, baby carriers and many other items as they become available.
At St. Margaret School, a Christmas tree was adorned with baby hats, clothes and rattles as part of their Baby Shower for Mary, held this week to support the diocesan program. During the season of Advent, when Christians are reflecting on Mary’s pregnancy, this generous gesture was a special way for students to honor the Blessed Mother and other mothers in need.
Principal Lee Ann Nunes shared that this initiative is a part of the school’s mission to provide a Christ-centered education in a caring, Catholic environment.
“This is the students truly living out the spirit of giving,” she shared.
Laura Doliber, a math and social studies teacher who moderates the student council, explained that this experience helped the students think less about what they wanted from Santa and more about how they could give back to other families.
“They are thinking about the birth of Jesus and the birth of all babies. There are mothers out there that count on our help,” said Doliber.
As the global church community prepares for the birth of Jesus, parishioners at St. Mary Church in Bristol were among a handful of other parishes throughout the diocese who hosted a Giving Tree for St. Gabriel’s Call during Advent.
Parishioner Judy Doherty said that people can take as many gift request tags as they’d like. This year, St. Mary Church has received more than 700 gifts and more than $3,500 in gift cards.
“Our Giving Tree event is always amazingly successful,” said Doherty. “People are so caring, willing to help those in need and so very generous.”
The parish hosts four trees with gift request tags from St. Gabriel’s Call, Mother of Life Center, McAuley House, McAuley Village, Pawtucket Even Start, Bristol Welfare, St. Mary’s Helpers and two St. Mary’s families.
“It is a wonderful group effort as gifts are brought, organized and sorted after each Mass,” said Doherty. “Many parishioners just come forward to join in and help without being asked. We are so blessed to belong to St. Mary’s and thankful for all the services and needed assistance that these agencies provide.”
The amount of gifts has been extraordinary during the Advent and Christmas season explained Carol Owens, diocesan Life & Family coordinator.
“The gifts, the toys, the gift cards and the monetary donations have been helpful all year but during this time of year, even more so. At Christmas, when everyone is in the giving spirit with their Advent and Giving Trees, it has been especially wonderful.”
If the ministry receives gift cards, they put them in Christmas gift bags and give them to mom to do her own shopping, a pleasure she doesn’t always have, Owens added.
“At this time of year, as we await the birth of Jesus, it is a gift in itself to witness the joy and smile on mom’s face as she leaves with a gift for her child. The moms we meet with are struggling to provide basic needs for their little ones, but at Christmas, that little child within every mom becomes more visible. It is like God smiling down and saying to her everything is okay.”
For more information, to volunteer or to donate items to St. Gabriel’s Call, please contact Carol Owens, Life & Family coordinator, at 401-278-2518, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.