by Bob Reddy (Editor, Florida Catholic Venice Edition)
FLORIDA CATHOLIC – Giving trees were seen at many parishes and schools. The ornaments typically list a gift for a needy child or elderly person in the community. They are later gathered and presented, spreading joy to families that would otherwise go without at traditional Christmas.
Blessed Pope John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers collected gifts which were then distributed at nearby Jesus the Worker Parish which has a large number of needy families. This annual project brings a smile and joy to participants at both parishes. The St. Elizabeth Seton School Advent Community Service Project adopted 254 children from Catholic Charities in Naples. Each student received a wish list for a child in need. Members of the chorus also went to a nearby nursing home and sang carols and, most importantly, spent time with the residents.
Epiphany School students presented a hand knitted scarf to each resident at a neighboring assisted living facility. The students were busy first semester knitting 70 scarves each made up of a prayer per stitch; which equates to nearly 800 prayers per scarf. As a tradition the middle school students also got the opportunity to build â€śgingerbread houses.â€ť The messy task included marshmallow goo which served as cement so the aspiring architects could decorate their houses with assorted sweets. Naturally, many of the sweets were taste-tested before they were placed on the houses.
For the students at St. Martha School in Sarasota, December was very busy with the boys and girls participating in the Sarasota Christmas Parade and collecting items for needy children in the area. This included donating and delivering food stuffs to fellow students in public schools. St. Andrew School in Cape Coral was selected to include a tree in the Edison Estates Childrenâ€™s Tree Trail in Fort Myers. Third, fourth, and fifth graders created the decorations. The school choir also performed for the Edison and Ford Holiday Nights and at the Edison Estate.
At St. Joseph School in Bradenton, the students not only had a giving tree, but they hand-delivered the gifts is a big yellow â€śsleigh.â€ť They then spent time playing with the boys and girls who were delighted to receive and open their gifts.
These are just some of the many events that have taken place at schools and parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice during Advent.