NEW YORK — The mission of the St. Francis Cares Ministry of St. Francis of Assisi Church here is in full swing this time of year, as it recently ended its Thanksgiving turkey distribution and prepares for Christmas gift-giving.
Directed by Maureen Hess, the St. Francis Cares Ministry gave away 260 turkeys to those in need in Manhattan, as well as the trimmings for Thanksgiving meals.
“St. Francis Cares is truly a miracle on 31st St,” said Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor, referring to the famous Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street. The reference is especially fitting since the 1947 classic took place at Macy’s Herald Square, only a few blocks uptown from the church.
For Christmas, the ministry’s Cares group is gathering hats, gloves, socks, sweatshirts and handmade scarves to give to people who come to the morning breadline. Some of the gifts are even handmade by the St. Francis knitting and crocheting group. At press time, Cares volunteers were wrapping gifts for the less fortunate. Two hundred gifts were expected to be distributed.
“There is no doubt that one of the greatest blessings at St. Francis is Maureen Hess and St. Francis Cares,” said Jerome. “With a great deal of organization and a whole lot of love, Maureen partners with various agencies and unique ministries around the city to provide assistance in their work with the poor, homeless and needy. Along with a dedicated group of volunteers, we collaborate with other ministries around Manhattan.”
The knitting/crocheting group is also creating handmade pouches and scarves to be given at Christmas to the Kateri Nursing Home on Manhattan’s West Side. The gift will also include rosary beads.
And if all this wasn’t exhaustive enough, the Cares group recently concluded its June-October Good Neighbor Program. Through this initiative, volunteers coordinated gifts for the annual October fundraiser to benefit The Dwelling Place, a Manhattan homeless shelter for women. Approximately 175 people attended the Oct. 18 event, held at St. Cyril and Methodius Church in midtown Manhattan.
Proceeds from the auction, basket, flower and 50/50 prizes will be used to help homeless women as they journey toward self-sufficiency, Hess said. She is shown in photo, second from left, with volunteers.
In addition to its holiday program, Cares participants worked on Mission of Mercy, a project in conjunction with the Nova-Hope for Haiti, Inc., to provide a Haitian child with lifesaving surgery. Cares presented the child with a “happy gift,” Hess said, that included a handmade afghan, toys, pajamas and robe, a camera and more.