'In-Kind' Gifts Meet Needs in Mission Counties

Posted: 1/30/2015

St. Bede Church knitting ministry group, Williamsburg, Va.Glenmary supporters share their time, talent and treasure in many ways to help the U.S. home missions and those living in mission counties. One way is through “in-kind” gifts that are as varied as the people who give (and sometimes make) them.

“These gifts are extremely valuable and appreciated in Glenmary missioners’ efforts to carry out their ministry,” says Jodi Mott, coordinator of the mission education and ministry office. “Some examples of items in demand are clothing for newborns through adults; blankets and shawls for the elderly; books; school supplies; Spanish-language materials on faith-related and other topics; rosaries; and more.”

Jodi encourages people to check with her about current items on the missions’ wish list—at either jmott@glenmary.org or 800-935-0975. The following are several examples of in-kind giving:

The 25-woman knitting ministry group at St. Bede Church in Williamsburg, Va., has been crafting handmade items for at least 24 years for people in need locally, in Appalachia, and at a refuge in Ecuador. “We’re really happy to use our talents this way,” says group cochair Margaret Robinson. Group members knit hats for newborns and chemotherapy patients, lap robes, baby blankets and sweaters, mittens, and scarves.

About two years ago, Margaret and a fellow group member were discussing how to consistently get more of the group’s items to people in Appalachia. Just then, a fellow parishioner and longtime Glenmary supporter, Joan Burke, overheard their conversation; told them about Glenmary’s work; and volunteered to deliver or ship their items to missioners for distribution in mission counties in Appalachia and the South.

“Our connection with Joan and Glenmary has definitely been the work of the Holy Spirit,” Margaret says. “Joan has been wonderful. She takes whatever we give her and passes it on, at her expense, to missioners. The bulk of our work is now going to those living in Glenmary mission counties.”

The group’s annual display of their knitted-item samples at the church now also features thank-you notes from missioners and photos of many people using their gifts. “We’re so glad to hear about, see and share the results of our work,” says Margaret. The display also attracts parishioner donations that help support the knitting ministry.

Joan adds that “this joy-filled group gives gifts which let people know they’re remembered, prayed for, and loved.”  

Margie Kunze, a member of St. John the Baptist Church in Harrison, Ohio,
recently served as librarian for the parish library, hoping to help improve the collection and revive interest. But after three years, when parishioners weren’t using this resource, she recommended to the pastor that the books be donated to a worthy cause. And he readily approved her choice of Glenmary.

“It was a large, wonderful collection,” says Margie, “with books on prayer, saints, social justice, marriage, family and reflection. I just thought Glenmary’s missioners and mission members could make the best use of them.”

She says that, in her heart, she’s been connected to Glenmary since learning about the society in the 1960s; values its mission and spirit; and considered joining the Glenmary Sisters. She personally gives other gifts and donations to Glenmary, too.

Members of clothes-making ministry at St. Paul Church, Peotone, Ill.In 2011, parishioners from St. Paul the Apostle Church in Peotone, Ill., attended a Catholic Council of Women (CCW) gathering, where they heard about a project to help the people of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. They learned how to make dresses and shorts for Haitian children from pillowcases and t-shirts.

Mary Lou Cooper says she and five of her fellow parishioners were involved in this “labor of love” for the next three years. The effort ended only when the parish CCW could no longer afford the costs of shipping the clothing to Haiti.

Then the project took on new life in 2014, when Glenmary Father Francois Pellissier gave mission appeals at their parish. “Two of us talked with him after Mass,” says Mary Lou, “and learned much more about Glenmary, its U.S. missions, and the great needs of people in their mission counties. We thought Glenmary was a great match for us and decided to focus our future work on helping meet those needs.”

So far, the group of six women has created over 180 dresses and 75 pairs of shorts (each with a toy in a pocket) for distribution by missioners. Parishioners prepared 31 Christmas shoeboxes, each filled with small gifts for a child. And group members have been driving items to Glenmary’s Cincinnati headquarters to save money. “We’re just very happy we can help people,” she says.

Ten years ago, Barb of Cincinnati launched her own Secret Santa effort, buying and donating many new gifts—mostly clothes and children’s items—for Christmas programs where people in need could choose items themselves. One such program has been Project Merry Christmas in Lewis County, Ky., a longtime Glenmary mission county where the missioners concluded their volunteer work in December 2014.

While in high school, Barb served as a Glenmary volunteer in Virginia. “I’ve been a supporter and donor ever since,” she says. She plans to continue her Secret Santa giving for Glenmary “as long as there’s another Glenmary Christmas program like Lewis County’s.”

Finally, Jean Pitts of Norristown, Pa., says that “God has more than blessed me, and my great joy is to help the poor and struggling.” Over the last five years, she has made several donations to fulfill needs on the mission wish list—liturgical items, books, clothing and more.

She recently purchased and shipped nearly 500 Spanish Bibles needed for a missioner’s ministry to detainees at a large detention center. “He sent me a beautiful thank-you note,” Jean says.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2015 Home Mission News.