Basilica provides free school supplies to over 200 children

The Basilica of Saint Mary is working with Christ House in Alexandria to ensure that disadvantaged children in the area have all the supplies they need for the upcoming school year.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Basilica is a major contributor to the Catholic Charities Back-to-School Backpack Program, which gives personalized backpacks stuffed with school supplies and a $20 gift card to children in need. More than 200 students will benefit from the Basilica’s efforts this year.

“These projects would not occur without parish partnerships,” said Art Bennett, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. “The partnership between Christ House and the Basilica of Saint Mary is very strong. Saint Mary’s is tremendously supportive of Christ House.”

The parish’s Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Catholic Daughters of the Americas and Junior Catholic Daughters raised nearly $4,800 for the project. More than $2,600 of that total was donated by Basilica parishioners during a collection after the Sunday Masses on June 30 and the Vigil Mass on June 29.

Volunteers started distributing the backpacks today. The remaining backpacks will be given away on August 23.

“So often, parishioners give with open hearts but never get to see their generosity at work,” said Marietta Bernot, a volunteer with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. “The opportunity for parishioners to work together toward a worthy cause and then to experience it is really satisfying.”

Members of the Basilica’s Catholic Daughters and Junior Catholic Daughters assisted in filling the backpacks and delivering them to Christ House.

“The Catholic Daughters exist to help others,” said Marianne Coates, a volunteer with the Catholic Daughters – Court Kavanaugh #54. “The response was overwhelming. The fact that the project was helping other school children really excited our Junior Catholic Daughters.”

Christ House is a service of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. In addition to the backpack program, Christ House provides emergency assistance, distributes free warm meals every day, runs a food pantry with perishable and non-perishable foods for the homeless and low-income households, manages a men’s transitional housing program and operates a thrift store.

Click here to view a photo album from the first day of backpack distribution. 

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