Bishop Burbidge and Father Hathaway assist volunteers on final day of backpack distribution at Christ House


Today was the final day of distribution for the Catholic Charities Back-to-School Backpack Program, which gives personalized backpacks stuffed with school supplies and a $20 gift card to area children in need. Bishop Michael Burbidge and Father Edward Hathaway, Rector of the Basilica of Saint Mary, were at Christ House to assist volunteers with distributing the backpacks.

“I’m so uplifted to see the smiles on their faces today,” said Bishop Burbidge after giving backpacks to dozens of children. “What I think is beautiful about this ministry is that it is individualized and age appropriate. It’s responding to the individual; it’s personal.”

“It was a great privilege to be here today and to meet the families that we are assisting,” said Father Hathaway.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the Basilica is a major contributor to the program. More than 200 students have benefited from the Basilica’s efforts this year. 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.

“It is amazing that we were able to distribute 200 backpacks,” said Father Hathaway. “I’m very grateful to all those who helped make this happen. Our parish really rose to the occasion and truly cares about those who are less fortunate.”

“This is really helping lift up the confidence of our students and it is only possible with the generosity of our parishioners, Catholic Daughters and the many people providing this,” added Bishop Burbidge.

Volunteers started distributing the backpacks on August 16. Members of the parish’s Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Catholic Daughters, Junior Catholic Daughters and Knights of Columbus helped the staff of Christ House during the distribution days.

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.

View a photo album from the final day of distribution here.

Read our coverage from the first day of backpack distribution here, which features comments from members of our Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and Catholic Daughters. 

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