St. Christopher School donates baby supplies to charity

  • Helping hands: Volunteer John Barnett helps organize donations collected by St. Christopher School in Somerton. The supplies will help the Blessed Margaret of Castello Home. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

  • The faculty at St. Christopher School donated hundreds of pounds of baby supplies to a local charity that supports single women who have “crisis pregnancies.” MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

  • Kathleen Thompson (center) launched the annual collection campaign four years ago. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

For years, Kath­leen Thompson and her col­leagues at St. Chris­toph­er School in Somer­ton taught their stu­dents to be stew­ards of the com­munity, par­tic­u­larly the less for­tu­nate and dis­tressed folks who live there.

About four years ago, Thompson and the oth­er teach­ers de­cided to change their strategy. In­stead of merely telling their pu­pils to give of them­selves gen­er­ously, the adults de­cided to show the young­sters a thing or two.

Last Thursday, the St. Chris fac­ulty donated hun­dreds of pounds of baby sup­plies to a loc­al char­ity that sup­ports single wo­men who have “crisis preg­nan­cies.” It took just one week for some 45 teach­ers to col­lect and pack­age the cargo, which filled two auto­mobile trunks.

“We al­ways ask stu­dents to take care of oth­er people, and I thought, as teach­ers, we should be role mod­els for them,” said Thompson, who has taught at St. Chris for 47 years.

The sup­plies will help the Blessed Mar­garet of Cas­tello Home. Thompson launched the an­nu­al col­lec­tion cam­paign four years ago after read­ing a brief art­icle about the home in the weekly church bul­let­in. She spoke to the school prin­cip­al, Mary Tr­em­per, and sug­ges­ted the teach­ers do a col­lec­tion in ad­vance of the stu­dents’ an­nu­al Novem­ber food drive. Tr­em­per agreed.

The second week of Oc­to­ber has been baby sup­plies week ever since then.

This year, Thompson dis­trib­uted a let­ter to her col­leagues re­quest­ing di­apers, wipes, sham­poo and soap, for­mula, ones­ies, in­fant clothes, crib sheets, gift cards and vari­ous oth­er baby-re­lated items. Teach­ers also were asked to give mon­et­ary dona­tions to the home. By all ac­counts, the teach­ers were gen­er­ous.

“They are very well aware that they’re provid­ing them­selves as role mod­els to the chil­dren,” said Sis­ter Vir­gin­ia Mil­ner, ad­vance­ment dir­ect­or for the school.

The con­tri­bu­tions have the po­ten­tial to be­ne­fit dozens of young wo­men in their time of need. The Blessed Mar­garet Home provides case man­age­ment, preg­nancy classes, par­ent­ing in­form­a­tion and many preg­nancy sup­plies to its cli­ents. Many also re­ceive hous­ing dur­ing preg­nancy and months after the child’s birth.

The wo­man are single moms, many of whom are ab­used or oth­er­wise un­able to sup­port them­selves or their un­born chil­dren.

“A lot of the wo­men are battered. A lot of them have a lot of prob­lems,” said vo­lun­teer John Barnett, whose wife Pamela is the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or.

The non­profit or­gan­iz­a­tion doesn’t dis­close its loc­a­tion pub­licly due the sens­it­ive cir­cum­stances of its res­id­ents. Pro-life ad­voc­ates foun­ded the home 28 years ago.

“There were people who were look­ing to have wo­men to stop hav­ing abor­tions and they real­ized [the wo­men] needed an­oth­er place to go,” said as­sist­ant dir­ect­or Pat O’Neill.

“It’s an al­tern­at­ive to abor­tion,” Barnett said.

Over the years, the home has helped more than 1,000 wo­men. Many of them re­main in con­tact with the or­gan­iz­a­tion to share their pos­it­ive out­comes.

“There’s not a day that goes by that a per­son doesn’t call my wife. I’m talk­ing about former cli­ents,” Barnett said.

“We had a wo­man liv­ing there 22 years ago and we re­ceived a call from her son who was serving in the mil­it­ary,” O’Neill said.

Thompson plans to con­tin­ue col­lect­ing for the home for many years to come. Her cur­rent goal is to reach 50 years as a par­ish teach­er, but she has no plans on re­tir­ing after that.

“She’s a very per­suas­ive per­son,” Sis­ter Vir­gin­ia said. ••

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