Pure joy. That describes the faces of the volunteers with Catholic Social Services who were busy loading large bags of gifts, toys, food and more at the former monastery building in Portsmouth for needy families Tuesday morning. In fact, over 1,000 gifts were handed out to children.
“Catholic Social Services is working with Molina Health in getting gifts for children – coats and boots for children in our area who are in need,” Barb McKenzie, director of Catholic Social Services, said. “Each child gets clothing and toys and we try to get as many coats as we can for the children – hats and gloves and scarves and blankets.”
McKenzie said sign-ups were held the last week of October.
“This afternoon, people who didn’t get to sign up, any of our extra things that we have left over, we’re giving out this afternoon,” McKenzie said.
As volunteers worked to fill the huge plastic bags, it was evident that everything was thought out with the needs of families in mind.
“We’re giving out food baskets too,” McKenzie said.
If you have been to this event in years past, it is obvious to anyone the lines are longer.
“We have seen it growing,” McKenzie said. “The economics in the area are not improving. We see a great need here. We’ve opened a soup kitchen here that’s open one day a week and we serve over 200 each time we’re open.”
As you walked the winding hallways there were volunteers like Barb Glockner, Kathy Grimm, Ann McCarthy and more, dragging bags that were so loaded down they were too heavy to carry.
“We’re very grateful for our volunteers,” Laura Campise, director of Mission Advancement for Catholic Social Services, said. “Without our staff and our volunteers we could never make this happen.”
Campise said she was grateful for the Molina Health Care team that came down to assist and who donated $2,000 in items to be given away.
“This is what it’s all about,” McCarthy said, as she took a short breather. “Christmas is for giving and that’s what we want to do up here, make sure everybody has a merry Christmas.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.