Despite adjustments necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, the spirit of giving remains evident across the Diocese of Rochester this Christmas season.
Parishes are employing creative approaches so that their charitable efforts can thrive while the risk of infection spread is minimized. One area of note is the popular giving-tree initiative, where alternative measures are helping reduce potential crowding and germ spread created by removing tags from trees and returning gifts to the parishes.
For instance, giving trees have gone virtual at at St. Christopher Parish in North Chili, St. Paul in Webster and St. Catherine of Siena in Ithaca. In place of tags are listings available on each parish’s website with such suggested gifts as toys, gift cards, clothing and household items. The items then can be dropped off in designated areas at the churches, rather than under giving trees.
St. Mary of the Lake in Watkins Glen is continuing its giving-tree project this year. However, parish staff members have offered to purchase gifts using monetary donations from parishioners who are uncomfortable shopping for those gifts due to the pandemic. And at St. Benedict in Odessa — which with St. Mary of the Lake constitute the Schuyler Catholic Community cluster — the annual Christmas Family effort sponsored by the St. Benedict’s Society is asking parishioners to donate gift cards or money, rather than gifts, to be passed on to an underprivileged family.
Also revising its holiday giving efforts are St. Mark in Greece and the Cathedral Community in Rochester, which each are asking parishioners to make donations to support Catholic Family Center; St. Mary Our Mother in Horseheads, which is asking its members to donate to area charitable organizations; Holy Cross in Freeville, which is requesting support for the local Salvation Army; Peace of Christ in Rochester, which is collecting groceries at the parish office to be forwarded to area agencies; and St. Lawrence in Greece, which is collecting nonperishable food for the Greece Ecumenical Food Shelf.
Meanwhile, gift cards or money are being requested to aid those in need through St. Leo in Hilton, St. Marianne Cope in Henrietta, Immaculate Conception in Ithaca, St. Benedict in Canandaigua and Bloomfield, and St. Mary/Ss. Mary and Martha/Our Lady of the Snow in Cayuga County.