By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator 

On Dec. 14, the office of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge turned into the North Pole.

 

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Bikes donated to families sponsored through the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge Christmas program are lined up outside of the Catholic Charities office, ready for pick up. Almost 900 bikes were donated.  Photos by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator 

 

With a giant inflatable Santa welcoming visitors, vehicles lined up along the driveway as volunteer elves loaded up cars with donated gifts for Christmas. Among those receiving gifts was Evelyn Johnson of Gonzales, who is still trying to recover from the flood of 2016.  

Johnson, who has four children at home, has also been trying to help her mother recover from the flood. 

“This is going to help tremendously because I didn’t have anything to get the kids,” Johnson said. “It’s been difficult. It’s been a real test.” 

Everything from bikes, games, toys, clothing and household items were donated for the Community Comes Together for Christmas program which matches individuals and families in need with people who want to provide Christmas for them.  

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Wrapped presents filled the conference room of the Catholic Charities office. Families, organizations, businesses, Catholic church parishes and Catholic schools sponsored 410 families for Christmas.  

 

Jeff Smith of Baton Rouge has volunteered with the drive for the past seven years and said he is astonished by the annual generosity of the community.  

“It’s unbelievable,” said Smith. “We unload, sometimes truckloads and cars full of gifts. A lot of it comes from the high schools and the clubs within the schools. So, we’ll get four and five different donations from the high schools.”  

At Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Baton Rouge, parishioners adopted 65 families for Christmas. Among the gifts were microwaves, bedding, toys and a total of 66 bicycles.  

“Even though we are not supposed to celebrate Christmas too early, it was wonderful to see the generosity of so many families. And even though they won’t actually see the children, youth, and adults in the receiving end, the grace of being giving is a powerful reason to celebrate. I and many were deeply inspired and humbled by the outpouring of love,” said Father Phil Spano, pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament.  

Overall, the Christmas program from Catholic Charities served 410 families and seniors. There were 189 sponsors including families, organizations, businesses, eight Catholic church parishes and three Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. 

“The generosity of our donors continues to be an inspiration to our staff throughout the year,” CCDBR executive David Aguillard said. “But their giving at this time of year is especially inspiring, as it represents the true spirit of the Christmas season. 

“Most of the time our donors say they get more in return than they give. So often, our clients just need to know that someone cares.”