Last year, Saint Kateri Catholic Church hosted the Caring and Sharing Christmas Festival welcoming nearly 500 people who came to the event for one big purpose: discovering ways they can help others.
This year, the church will host the event again with a hope that it will bring in attendees who want to find ways to become involved in the community, either through their own church ministries or outside charity organizations.
Jenna Weaker volunteered at the event last year and was so inspired by the purpose, she decided to volunteer again this year, but in a much bigger way.
“This is really eye opening in the sense that there are so many homeless families in the community, or mothers in the SCV that are struggling that we can help,” Weaker explained.
Weaker helped assemble donated diapers into special diaper cakes shaped as Christmas trees that were given to the Single Mothers Outreach for mom’s in need. They collected thousands of diapers and with the help of attendees, assembled more than three hundred diaper cakes.
This year Weaker is in charge of organizing hands on service projects that encourage attendees to complete a small project while at the festival. Projects include, packing food for the needy, assembling toiletry care packages for the homeless, and putting together gift bags for first responders.
“I thought the festival was a great way for families to see the other side of the Christmas season,” she explained. “It can often be so much about getting presents. This is a nice way to raise awareness for the people within a few miles of our own homes that have real needs.”
Caring for others
The Caring and Sharing Christmas Festival recruits church ministries, such as global missions outreach and Knights of Columbus, as well as outside charities, like Carousel Ranch, Meals on Wheels, and Mustard Seed Ministries.
Each group hosts a booth where attendees are encouraged to complete small service projects, donate to the programs, or learn how they can volunteer and get involved in the future.
“We recognize there are many ways to give service to others,” explained Pam English, co-chair of the event. “Our goal is to share Christ’s love with others. The Christmas season is a time of caring for other people and this is just the tip of the iceberg to let people know how they can help and become actively involved.”
The Caring and Sharing Festival will be held in Slattery Hall at Saint Kateri tomorrow, December 3, from 11 to 3 p.m. The festival will offer food items for purchase to benefit different outreach organizations. Live music, children’s games and a visit from Santa Clause will also be a part of the fun.
Good in the world
Angela Zaidman plans to volu
nteer again this year and emphasized how important it is to model an attitude of service for her children and children in the community.
“I want my kids to know we can help other people if we have the capability of giving back,” said Zaidman.
Weaker shared a similar sentiment of setting an example of service for children.
“We are a working middle class family, we don’t have money to throw at charities; but at least we can give our service and our time,” she explained.
Zaidman explained many of the hands on service projects are geared for families with children so the kids can participate too. This offers families a way to build new holiday traditions beyond their homes.
“This allows you to reach out to people who may not have the family like we may have, and it makes someone else’s holiday special,” said Zaidman.
Nearly 500 people attended last years festival and the church hopes to grow the event in future years, providing new outreach opportunities, as well as bringing in new organizations for people to volunteer with.
“This isn’t just for our parish, this event is for everybody,” said Weaker. “We want people to see there is so much need in our community, so many places to volunteer and donate. This festival is so inspiring to see so much good in our own community, hundreds of people helping. I really hope people see theres so much good out there in the world still.”
The Caring and Sharing Festival will be held tomorrow Dec. 3 from 11 to 3 p.m. at Saint Kateri Parish at 22508 Copper Hill Dr.