Christmas came early for residents and staff at an archdiocesan care community, thanks to the generosity of a Delaware County parish.
Earlier this week, members of St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford dropped off large bags of presents they had collected for Divine Providence Village (DPV), an intermediate care facility for adult women with intellectual disabilities.
Located in Springfield and administered by archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS), DPV is part of the larger Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence, which provide a continuum of support through community and campus-based living arrangements, life sharing through family living, in-home assistance, respite care and day programs.
Other area parishes, including St. Anastasia in Newtown Square and St. Patrick in Kennett Square, helped to fill Christmas stockings at DPV with gift cards.
The St. John Chrysostom donations treated DPV’s 70 residents to pajamas, socks, stuffed animals, coloring books and puzzles.
And the center’s 150 direct service professionals, who provide round-the-clock care, each received notes of thanks and $10 gift cards and from St. John Chrysostom parishioners.
“If there’s a harder job than personal caregiving, I don’t know what it is,” said Mary Chollet, the parish’s director of ministry and communications. “These folks are so unsung. They’re at such risk and hardship, and they’re angels.”
Chollet said the DPV gift drive was part of the parish’s annual St. Nicholas Project, which encompasses several smaller outreaches that each work to bring help and hope at Christmas.
As part of the project, Advent Angels deliver tea, cookies and poinsettias to some 80 bereaved and homebound parishioners.
“That gesture really has an impact as people face their first Christmas without their loved one,” said Chollet. “It’s another way of reminding people they’re part of the community.”
For several years, the parish has also supported a toy drive sponsored by Christian nonprofit CityTeam, which has a ministry location in Chester.
Each year, parishioners adopt families in the community and purchase “the entire Christmas list for each,” said Chollet.
COVID has doubled the need, she said.
“We used to do 40 families, and this year we had 80, with over 300 kids among them,” she said.
Chollet — who along with pastor Father Edward Hallinan battled and recovered from COVID earlier in the year — admitted she was “blown away” by parishioners’ generosity.
“People would just leave envelopes with eight $25 gift cards in them,” she said. “It was enormously inspirational.”
And to literally top off this year’s Christmas charitable efforts, the parish’s prayer shawl ministry stitched hundreds of hats, as well as scarves and face masks, for distribution.
“They were clearing out everything they had for the rest of the year,” Chollet said, noting that the warm woolens were also brought to DPV.
After months of pandemic, she said, “you don’t have to go far to find hardship this year.”
But the spirit of giving triumphed over the gloom, she added.
“We ended up serving more people than we ever have,” she said.
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