LANCASTER, Pa. — College student Shannon Hickey and her mother, Kelly Lynch, founders of Mychal’s Message, the charitable organization named for Mychal Judge, OFM, were guests of the White House at the Jan. 15 farewell speech and reception for former President Bush.
This was the third time in eight years that the Millersville (Pennsylvania) University freshman was invited to the White House. She attended President Bush’s 8 p.m. televised farewell speech and the preceding reception.
“We were very honored to be invited back to the White House,” said Lynch, who received a phone call from the USA Freedom Corps on Jan. 8, telling her that her daughter had been selected as a greeter for the farewell event.
“We had a wonderful evening at the White House,” said Lynch. “I was filed with admiration and humility to be there. Shannon had her photo taken with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. We also had a lovely moment with the president.”
Since they founded Mychal’s Message in 2002, Hickey and Lynch have gained national exposure for their spirit of volunteerism and helping others. From its humble beginnings, the two founded the organization to mark the anniversary of Hickey’s life-saving liver transplant as a young child by collecting socks for the homeless.
Since its inception, Mychal’s Message has collected and distributed more than 175,000 new items to the homeless and poor. Items have been distributed in Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Iraq.
Hickey first met President Bush in September 2004 when she was asked to greet the President as he arrived at a local airport for a nearby speaking engagement. She was invited to the White House to attend a State of the Union address in 2007, and a volunteer reception in 2008.
At the Jan. 15 reception, Lynch left a copy of her book about Mychal, He Said Yes, in the Presidential Library, and Hickey presented two gifts to the president –- a rosary that was blessed in Lourdes, a gift from Steven McDonald, a wounded New York City police detective and friend of Mychal, and a card saying that a $500 donation was being given to the St. Francis Breadline at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City in the name of President Bush.
In addition to buying more than 400 coats for the needy, and numerous gifts for shelter residents, Mychal’s Message brought 60 filled stockings to the Province’s St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. In all, Lynch estimates purchasing 1,700 toiletries, 210 books and toys, 101 pairs of gloves, and numerous other gifts this Christmas.
Lynch was grateful for the help of cousins from South Carolina visiting for the holidays, and friends from Maine, Italy, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who sorted, boxed and wrapped gifts, as well as opened envelopes with donations and logged in the amounts.
Lynch and Hickey took some professional help this year, calling on The Bowery Mission in New York City to deliver the hundreds of gifts. One hundred coats were delivered to the St. Francis Breadline at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, another 100 for St. Francis Inn, and another 100 went to several organizations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
With the help of God, said Lynch, “Everything was purchased, counted, sorted, wrapped and delivered in time to make Christmas special for those who needed it most. On the seventh day, we rested.”
Lynch is now preparing to speak about the work of Mychal at schools throughout Pennsylvania during Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 25, as well as on Long Island, N.Y., in February.
Editor’s note: Click the photo above to see a photo of Lynch and Hickey.