Benedictine Sisters of Erie Home Home

Being creative for Christmas

Cynthia is enjoying the holiday preparation

    A sense of expectation was tangible.  Christmas music and animated conversation could be heard throughout first floor.  The staff at Saint Benedict Education Center was preparing to share holiday joy and gifts with their clients and families--differently.  

    Once again creativity was summoned during this time of limited contact and movement.  The need:  Christmas gifts for our participants’ children. The challenge:  Getting everything together and out in a safe, responsible way—following the Covid-19 Protocols.  A plan emerged, with several stages, and it worked!

    Case managers assessed the need and compiled a list of names with ages and genders of the children for toys to be purchased.

    Some brave and hearty staff took the composite list and went shopping.  On their return the purchases were organized in the newly designated “SBEC Christmas Store”.

    December 2, 2020:  Shopping and wrapping day          
Each staff-shopper was given a form that identified the SBEC family they were shopping for with pertinent information to enable wise choices.  Once the toy selections were made a trip to a “wrapping station” for the gift wrapping was important.  The client’s gifts were then put aside for pick-up day.  This process was repeated until all the gifts were wrapped and prepared for each client.

    What successful activity could occur without also sharing a meal?  Surely not at SBEC--and at Christmas!  A simple lunch was enjoyed and holiday greetings were shared to conclude this most recent “Covid-Modified” event.  

    One member of the staff commented:  The last few weeks, separating the gifts, assembling toys, wrapping and working side-by-side (6 feet apart) with my co-workers has been amazing!  Being the newbie at the Center, it gave me the opportunity to get to know my colleagues better.  The Spirit of Christmas was alive and felt throughout the halls! 

    December 9, 9:00-3:00:   The “travel thru toy pick-up”
See the Treasures & Such page to travel along.

    A SURPRISE:  A couple additional, unexpected family gifts were included in the gift distribution.  One was an activity that provided an easy way for the family to interact and have fun together during the holidays.

    Was all the extra planning and work worth the results?  The SBEC staff would say “Absolutely”.  Just a few comments offered by staff:

It was great for me to see and talk to my participants in person because I’ve only been instructing them remotely and talking to them through video calls!

One of my participants messaged this:  “Good afternoon.  I had my mom pick them up for me.  Thank you for the gifts; I appreciate it.  Can you tell everyone me and my kids said thank you, and have a blessed and safe holiday?”

…each one who rec'd gifts seemed extremely grateful...big smiles and wishing the staff "Happy Holiday."

    In the spirit of these Christmas gift responses, it seems appropriate to share the following “coats/boots story from November.  And, one of the pictures was sent by a participant who said:  “They fit perfect…thank you…this is so amazing.”

Myself and Jodi were distributing the coats to a family and there were four kids from ten years old to 2 months old….The reaction from the four year old was heart melting…she was very happy and quite taken by her coat/boots….I pulled out a purple coat and she took one look at it, put her hand on her chest and said “Oh, is that for me!!??!!” and quickly tried the coat on and announced that “she loved it”…. She was also very impressed with her sister’s coat and very happy their coats matched.  She definitely was a happy little girl and so appreciative of the gifts…..When we left there that day Jody and I….realized how much help we are to our families and really the work we do here at St. Benedicts is a mission.  Know that what we do really does impact lives and families.