Saint John Paul II Academy Receives Over 250 Gifts from CM Christmas Gift Drive
Dorchester, Mass.-- Christmas arrived early at Saint John Paul II Academy when seven students from Catholic Memorial School delivered over 250 presents to the school’s Columbia Road campusin Dorchester on Tuesday afternoon.
Before the donation, the school needed gifts to support 70 percent of their families who asked for assistance at Christmas time. Thanks to the donations provided by CM Campus Ministry’s Christmas Gift Drive, the Columbia campus met their need and then some.
“Just like loaves and fish, it just kept growing,” said Ms. Kate Brandley, the regional director of the three Saint John Paul II Academy campuses.
“After my principals went through everything, there were so many gifts left over. It wasn’t just baseballs and basketballs either. We had robotic toys and themed books. It seemed like they really cared about the boys who they were donating to.”
Over 1,100 students attend Saint John Paul II. A parochial school for children from grades pre-K to eight, the school offers financial aid to 70 percent of students.
Every year, Saint John Paul II keeps track offamilies who request gifts for their children during the holiday season. The school raises gifts and accepts donations from other schools to meet the annual need. A low donation total puts more pressure on Ms. Brandley’s faculty and staff to fulfill the remaining need.
CM’s Campus Ministry program, led by Mr. Kevin Durazo and Mr. Nicholas Genovese, orchestrated the CM Christmas Gift Drive to support Saint John Paul II’s Columbia campus. Together, they advocated for donations through posters in school hallways, lessons on service in the theology curriculum, and announcements about the initiative in the CM weekly newsletter. Starting at the beginning of December, students and faculty placed their donated gifts underneath a Christmas tree display in CM’s main lobby.
On Tuesday, the seven-student cohort gathered in front of the CM main lobby. Theypacked up the gifts underneath the tree, loaded the CM Campus Ministry van, and delivered the gifts to Dorchester. When they arrived at the Columbia campus, the students engaged with the Saint John Paul II faculty and learned about the school’s mission.
A few of the CM students who dropped off the donations once attended Saint John Paul II Academy. Junior Clayton Majors-Rice attended Saint John Paull II’s Neponset and Lower Mills campuses while growing up in Dorchester.
“You should always give back to the place that raised you,” said Clayton.
“[Saint John Paul II Academy] helped me when I was younger by giving me a really caring environment. I hope to do the same kind of service work in my last few years at CM and when I go to college. It’s taught me to be a better man, to take charge, and to be a leader.”
The CM students left Dorchester with a feeling of fulfillment. They knew their service made a significant difference in the lives of many.
“It made me feel like Santa Clause,” said Kevin Hicks II, a sophomore from Roxbury.
“I felt that I was doing it to make a difference. Especially when it means that they’re getting gifts for Christmas.”
Catholic Memorial, the Christian Brothers School of Boston, prepares boys for college, manhood and a world full of unknown challenges, ambiguity and complex problems and the importance of relationships.