NEW YORK — Christmas shopping started early in midtown Manhattan, where crocheted and knitted items were sold last month by St. Francis Cares, a ministry of St. Francis of Assisi Church.
People from St. Francis parish and the neighborhood stopped at the Oct. 22 craft fair to purchase handmade items.
Money raised through the event was donated to the St. Francis Breadline, the nearly 80-year-old parish service that helps the hungry. Each morning since 1929, friars and volunteers provide a meal to hundreds of guests.
“We wanted to help those less fortunate than us,” said Maureen Hess, director of Cares.
Among the items sold were hats, scarves, shawls, children’s and toddler’s sweaters, and household items. They were created by members of the St. Francis Cares knitting and crocheting group as well as by women involved in other programs of the St. Francis Cares (SFC) Ministry.
Eleven volunteers donated their time to staff the craft fair. They were very enthusiastic about the project, according to Hess. Most members of SFC’s knitting and crocheting group are mainly retirees, Hess said.
People who came to the craft fair were “very gracious,” Hess said. “It seemed that customers liked hearing that their money was going to the breadline.”
The St. Francis Breadline received nearly $800 from the sales at the fair, Hess said. Michael Carnevale, OFM, director of the breadline, was among the shoppers at the fair. He is pictured in photo above with Maureen Hess, who said that Anthony LoGalbo, OFM, also stopped by the fair.
Hess noticed a lot of customers buying afghans, “perhaps to help with costly heating bills,” she conjectured.
The St. Francis Cares Ministry also coordinated several other autumn programs. It recently collected donations to help purchase Halloween treats for children’s parties at several agencies, and is now accepting money for a turkey drive.
“We use the funds to help put a traditional Thanksgiving meal on the table of a needy family,” Hess said.
The St. Francis Cares Ministry is seeking donations of yarn for its craft projects, said Hess. “We also need toothpaste, travel-sized toothbrushes, and toiletries to replenish the inventory at shower facilities for the homeless.”
Donations should be delivered to Hess at St. Francis House, at 135 West 31st Street, New York, N.Y.
The photo behind the photo above shows Hess with several craft fair volunteers; from left, her mother, Catherine Hess, Paula Sawtell, and Mary Curczynski.
The St Francis Cares ministry was founded in 1997 by Christopher Keenan, OFM, said Hess, who has been involved since she joined the parish staff in 1998.
— Jocelyn Thomas is communications director of Holy Name Province.