Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gifts of Love: Meaningful Gift-Giving

Below is an article shared by Marcia Mendola, who has helped head up the Haiti Initiative at St. Louis Church in Pittsford, NY for over 20 years. Please read to learn about the amazing relationship between St. Louis, Friends of the Orphans and NPFS Haiti and the great work they are doing together to help children in need.

Over the past 20 years, St. Louis Catholic Church in Pittsford has enjoyed a special relationship with Fr. Rick and his staff. They say he is a “real saint in the making” and appreciate his incredible work for the betterment of mankind. They are especially grateful to him for providing a direct route of service to the suffering in Haiti, and have complete confidence in his work knowing that every cent is put to the best possible use. When the 2010 earthquake hit last year, St. Louis Parish was poised to help with several fundraisers (in addition to the regular tithing commitment to Friends of the Orphans): the 39th Annual Corn Sale, St. Louis School’s Dress-Down and Bake Sale days, a World Hunger Banquet event, the Sunday Stroll for Haiti and the famous annual Christmas Ornament Sale. In addition, the church committee manned a fundraising and informational booth at the fall and spring town celebrations; a local musician tied to the committee created, performed and sold a song about Haiti (; and a local restaurant owner and parishioner offered Italian sauce for the cause.

This September, St. Louis celebrated its 40th Annual Corn Sale. For forty years the Powers Family, who run an area farm market, have planted, harvested and delivered wagon loads of fresh corn for parishioners to sell before and after masses on the weekend after Labor Day.

During the coming Holiday Season, St. Louis will conduct its 30th Annual Ornament Sale. Over the past 20 years the money raised has been sent to Fr. Rick’s efforts with the Haiti Initiative. From Halloween until New Year’s Day the beautiful, uniquely different every year, white ceramic ornaments will be available at 4 area churches and 26 merchants around the Greater Rochester area. (Donations of $6 each are requested). Purchase sites, pictures of the ornaments, and more information is available on the parish website:

The story behind this Ornament Sale is a wonderful one! These works of art are made by the “Special People” at the School of the Holy Childhood ( Throughout the school year, these developmentally challenged students work as part of their curriculum to create 2,600 masterpieces. In the summer months, the school’s workshop students gift-package the ornaments for St. Louis. Holy Childhood students, despite their personal life challenges, are proud and happy to be of help to children not as fortunate as they. This year, in 2011, the 30th edition proudly features the “Angel of Music” and “Peace Doves.” This project is aptly named “Works of Love”. From the creation of the ornament to its packaging, the children’s love is plainly evident. The purchasers buy the gift out of love for the recipient, and the recipient loves to be remembered in such a thoughtful, meaningful way. All involved find this a way to show their love for the beneficiaries: the poor of Haiti.

Kathleen McMahon (Pastoral Associate of the Social Ministry and Justice at St. Louis Church in Pittsford, NY) adds: It is only within the last eighteen months that I have had the privilege of working with Marcia Mendola, Bob McNamara and Jennifer Rayno to assist with their amazing efforts on behalf of Fr. Rick, Our Little Brothers and Sisters organization in Haiti (NPFS Haiti) and Friends of the Orphans.  It is an honor to be involved with their devoted labors.  

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