St. Christopher School donates baby supplies to charity

Helping hands: Volunteer John Barnett helps organize donations collected by St. Christopher School in Somerton. The supplies will help the Blessed Margaret of Castello Home. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

For years, Kathleen Thompson and her colleagues at St. Christopher School in Somerton taught their students to be stewards of the community, particularly the less fortunate and distressed folks who live there.

About four years ago, Thompson and the other teachers decided to change their strategy. Instead of merely telling their pupils to give of themselves generously, the adults decided to show the youngsters a thing or two.

Last Thursday, the St. Chris faculty donated hundreds of pounds of baby supplies to a local charity that supports single women who have “crisis pregnancies.” It took just one week for some 45 teachers to collect and package the cargo, which filled two automobile trunks.

“We always ask students to take care of other people, and I thought, as teachers, we should be role models for them,” said Thompson, who has taught at St. Chris for 47 years.

The supplies will help the Blessed Margaret of Castello Home. Thompson launched the annual collection campaign four years ago after reading a brief article about the home in the weekly church bulletin. She spoke to the school principal, Mary Tremper, and suggested the teachers do a collection in advance of the students’ annual November food drive. Tremper agreed.

The second week of October has been baby supplies week ever since then.

This year, Thompson distributed a letter to her colleagues requesting diapers, wipes, shampoo and soap, formula, onesies, infant clothes, crib sheets, gift cards and various other baby-related items. Teachers also were asked to give monetary donations to the home. By all accounts, the teachers were generous.

“They are very well aware that they’re providing themselves as role models to the children,” said Sister Virginia Milner, advancement director for the school.

The contributions have the potential to benefit dozens of young women in their time of need. The Blessed Margaret Home provides case management, pregnancy classes, parenting information and many pregnancy supplies to its clients. Many also receive housing during pregnancy and months after the child’s birth.

The woman are single moms, many of whom are abused or otherwise unable to support themselves or their unborn children.

“A lot of the women are battered. A lot of them have a lot of problems,” said volunteer John Barnett, whose wife Pamela is the executive director.

The nonprofit organization doesn’t disclose its location publicly due the sensitive circumstances of its residents. Pro-life advocates founded the home 28 years ago.

“There were people who were looking to have women to stop having abortions and they realized [the women] needed another place to go,” said assistant director Pat O’Neill.

“It’s an alternative to abortion,” Barnett said.

Over the years, the home has helped more than 1,000 women. Many of them remain in contact with the organization to share their positive outcomes.

“There’s not a day that goes by that a person doesn’t call my wife. I’m talking about former clients,” Barnett said.

“We had a woman living there 22 years ago and we received a call from her son who was serving in the military,” O’Neill said.

Thompson plans to continue collecting for the home for many years to come. Her current goal is to reach 50 years as a parish teacher, but she has no plans on retiring after that.

“She’s a very persuasive person,” Sister Virginia said. ••

The faculty at St. Christopher School donated hundreds of pounds of baby supplies to a local charity that supports single women who have “crisis pregnancies.” MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Kathleen Thompson (center) launched the annual collection campaign four years ago. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO