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Happy Mother’s Day

As Mother’s Day approaches during this time of quarantine and social distancing, I am reminded of how the Christ Child Society is an organization closely aligned with this special day.  I bet, as a child, Mary Virginia Merrick had visions of some day becoming a wife and mother.  Sadly, her circumstances did not allow that to happen.  However, Miss Mary became a mother figure to thousands of children and Christ Child  members throughout her years of service.  She saw the Christ Child in every child and                     strove to make their lives just a bit better.

As mothers, we also want what is best for our children and hope to make their world a bit better.  We have lived through the early years when, just trying to keep your child alive was the main focus…stay away from the street, strangers and electrical sockets. No, you cannot have cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, you can ride your bike to your friend’s house but please watch out for cars. I guess it is time for you to get your driver’s license. And that moved us to the hope and a prayer stage.  I hope you make the right choices when away at school.  I pray that you watch where you walk at night all alone.       I don’t wait up for you, but I do constantly hope and pray that you are okay.  And soon your daughters and sons have kids of their own and without judging (okay, maybe just a bit of judging) you watch them have babies and become the parents you hoped they would be.

That is when Mother’s Day changes for you.  When my kids were young, I just wanted to have them around me on that special day.  I let them pick what the day would  hold.  Over the years I had breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea and dinner both at home and out.  I received the handprint pictures, the potholders, the carefully purchased gifts and the homemade cards. We attended a production of The Importance of Being Earnest” (my older daughter’s choice), Die Hard movie (my son) and a volleyball game (my younger daughter).  We hung out with family and friends.  However, now that my children have kids of their own, the spotlight is on my daughters and daughter-in-law…and you know…that is just fine with me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still get attention, but I am happy to pass the Mother’s Day torch to the girls. Of course, during this crazy time, the attention comes via zoom or Facetime.  Hugs will have to wait.

As Christ Child members, we have the opportunity to follow Mary Virginia Merrick’s legacy and be a mothering influence on the children we serve.  Whether we have children  of our own or not, (and I include our male volunteers here to) we can all see the Christ  Child in the young ones we interact with.  We can be that mentor, that warm welcome,   that smile.  I know that many of you think of those you serve as your own.  What a perfect thought for Mother’s Day.  I think we would all agree that without mothers, the world would be a little less gentle, a little less kind and, I think you’ll all agree, there would be way less home cooking.

The mothers in my life”

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How Do We Love – Let Us Count The Ways

How do we love…Let us count the ways…

 

February, the month of love!  There are so many kinds of love in the world.  For me, the purest love is that for my grandchildren.  My husband and I recently moved from Pasadena to Denver.  Our son and youngest daughter and their families live there and, much to our surprise, our older daughter and family decided to relocate there too!  Now we have the whole family together again and what a lovely change it has been.

When we used to visit Denver, the kids would pull me down to the basement to play for hours on end.  I would listen to the adults having a great time upstairs and thought, at the very least, they could bring me a drink.  However, I would never trade those times when I played fireman, fort, pillow avalanche, paw patrol, hide and seek and monster…over and over and over again.  Pure love! I still play a lot but the kids now know that when “P” leaves, they will see her again very soon.  Watching them just be, is my greatest joy!

Then there is the love we have for our pets.  I have two dogs.  Anyone with pets knows that this type of love is unconditional.  We forgive their indiscretions (at least I do…my husband not as much).  We put up with the occasional accident in the house, the chewing of our favorite plant, shoe or, in my case, glasses.  Pets help us to look beyond ourselves.  They allow us quiet time; sitting with no conversation.  Just being in the moment.  And when returning home after being gone, we are met with wagging tails along with an exuberance that says “You are forgiven for leaving my sight.  We can now get back to just hanging together”.

 

As Christ Child members, we are familiar with, probably, the greatest love of all.  Mary Virginia Merrick’s love and devotion to the Christ Child is ever present in our mission and day to day service to the children and families in our communities.  I envy her unwavering passion.

According to our NCCS historian, Patty Myler, “Her faith led her to charitable and social reform efforts which began in 1884, when she was 18, and then to her founding the Christ Child Society in 1887, at the age of 21. The Society operates today as a national organization with Chapters in cities across the United States and has operated, uninterrupted, for over 133 years, a living testimony to the work she began and personally led for 68 years. Under her leadership, the Society grew from her personal charitable work to a local charitable operation in Washington D.C., and then into a national network of Chapters – all serving children in need. During her lifetime, and in her death, she has inspired thousands of women and men to serve children and families in need through their personal service.”

Over the years, 72 communities have benefited from the work of Christ Child members.  If we add up the years of service from all past and present NCCS chapters, we have provided an equivalent of 3,191 years of service. That is some really heavy-duty love!

May we go beyond this month of love and follow in Mary Virginia Merrick’s footsteps, where we strive to see the Christ Child in every child and bring hope and love to all we serve.

 

Carol Pickle
National Christ Child Society

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Christmas Message

This joyous season reminds us of the close relationship between Mary Virginia Merrick and the Christ Child…the inspiration for the National Christ Child Society.

 

“One Christmas, I recall as I went to bed, I thought deeply on the mystery of the Blessed Night and I caught a glimpse of the abasement of the Son of the Most High God. I can’t describe it but what I had learned so far back that I could not recall any time when I did not know it, came to me with the force of a great and mighty truth. I laid hold on that which had been mine for years – faith in the Incarnation of God. I prayed, I adored, I thought of the Son of God coming to our city as He had done centuries before, at the barred gates and the shut doors, and I longed to welcome Him and wrap his limbs in swaddling clothes and ‘our fellow in the Manger’ laying called me in the night to the voices of the poor of the city – and I longed to do something for His sake most mightily. I did not then conceive or forecast the slightest plan, I merely loved and longed to help Him incarnate for our sake. I know that night this mystery gave me great delight and joy. I catch from this faint glimpse of the joy that made St. Francis dance beside the first crèche ever fashioned, which he set up in the forest near Assisi.” Mary Virginia Merrick

 

We hope you all have a joy filled Christmas with family and friends and that you continue to see the Christ Child in every child we serve.

 

Merry Christmas from your National Board!

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Energize – Inspire – Advance

I recently returned from our National Conference 2019 – Energize, Inspire, Advance!  where representatives from chapters across the country came together to chat, learn and share on a national level!  I am always so energized when I leave with new ideas and new friends.  I was reminded that, sometimes during our program year, we may need a little help to keep that energy going. 

 

I don’t know about you, but I draw energy from our chapters and what they do on a day to day basis.  Every time I read a newsletter or see a Face Book post, I am reminded of the boundless energy that our members possess.  It’s not easy to collect items, pack and distribute 1600 layettes, or even 150 for that matter.  It takes energy to go week after week, to read to a class or individual student.  Manning the clothing distribution centers, not only takes time, but energy so that each child is given the time and attention they deserve to pick out that special outfit, shoes, and coats.  The program planning, knitting, fundraising, donation drives, book deliveries are repeated year after year.  Of course, the smiles and thank yous received are all that are necessary to reinvigorate us and get us excited for the next time or the next year!  I have to share a couple of thank yous that came to me via the Pasadena Treasures Program.  One lesson is on how to write thank you notes and the 5th graders are given their own monogramed stationery too!  They practice with a note to the National CC President.  

  From Ivy – “Thank you for choosing our school and for having ladies teach us manners.  I especially like Mrs. Crabtree and Mrs. Reaume.”  Those two CC members certainly made an impression on one little girl!

And from Kenneth we get – “Thank you for giving us the nice Treasures program. Thanks for helping us teach manners.  I can’t wait for the lunch trip.  My favorite class was the boys got to tie a tie.”  It’s the little things that can really make a difference!

 

Now I know it’s not easy to keep that energy up never mind instilling it your members.  But I hope we can draw off one another remembering that we are not alone in this mission.  We all recognize that if Mary Virginia Merrick was able to lay a foundation for this great organization with all of her difficulties, we can certainly do our part.

 

Funny thing happened as I was writing this…I looked at Face Book and saw this post from our Fort Wayne chapter “Great job ladies today! There were about 35 women who worked hard unpacking, detagging and repacking over 1500 coats in 2 hours’ time.  Snacks and laughter were plentiful.  We are all so excited to welcome the little children of our community and provide them with a brand-new coat in a couple of weeks.”  It appears I may be preaching to the choir…

 

And now what keeps us inspired each and every year.  We can, once again, go back to Mary Virginia Merrick, her life and her writing.  Or, we can just, once again, follow the current happenings in our chapters. South Bend recently received some great media attention for the opening of their clothing center distribution cycle. 

https://abc57.com/news/local-nonprofit-provides-outfits-to-children-ahead-of-new-school-year?fbclid=IwAR0vJ2LDaaM1qWY1dpp-BfTNPnhoNEWB2cwiVv4Z5SaH-VjkWho-05yDfc

 I am sure that everyone watching this clip will want to start a clothing center!  We have other large undertakings such as the Christ Child House in Detroit and Girls on the Rise, here in DC.   And our smaller scale programs are just as impressive and inspirational.

Let me tell you about Tucson.  The principal at a school the chapter supports told Angela Schneider that one of the biggest needs he had was for a washer and dryer.  Kids were coming to school in dirty clothes and, of course, did not feel good about themselves.  Well Angela took action and contacted a local appliance shop and received a refurbished washer and dryer in about a week.  Of course, what happens often when we find a need…we find another need.  The school did not have the water and electrical hook ups for the appliances.  Angela is now on a mission to get outside assistance to make that happen.  Eventually, and I predict very soon, the kids will have their clothes laundered at school and oh what a difference that will make in their everyday lives.

We also have members as well as non-member volunteers that year after year lovingly make countless hats, blankets, bears and other items making sure that each layette recipient has something homemade…something that shows we care that much more! 

Members in Atlanta tend to Elizabeth’s Garden as if it were their own, just to watch kids experience the wonder of God’s creations. And speaking of God’s creations…this is probably the only inspiration you need…these faces…

 And just a reminder – these types of pictures and videos tell the Christ Child story. 

Please remember to take good photos (and get releases) so that you can use them in future campaigns or PR.  We would love to have them too in the National office.  We like to highlight what our chapters are doing and the impact you all have in your local communities!

 

Finally, let’s talk about Advancing our mission. This year saw 3 new provisional chapters, which is a great achievement!  In order to grow our impact, we need to add members and, more importantly, add chapters.  We were lucky to get 3 individuals, along with their family and friends, to take the lead in establishing these new chapters.  We know that there are more people just like them out there!  This is where you all come in.  If you know of a chapter member that has relocated to an area without a chapter nearby, or a relative or friend that loves our mission, please let them know that we can help them bring Christ Child to their community.  They don’t have to do it alone.  Chuck Alfano, from our provisional chapter in Western Mass, found us through the Vatican website.  His chapter has taken a different approach and has actively recruited women and men as members.  This is a new look for Christ Child that Mary Virginia Merrick would embrace as we adapt to current needs and situations.  Patricia Gonzalez took her inspiration to start the chapter in Dallas Forth Worth, from her mother, Geri, who relocated from Pasadena where she had been a member.  I hated to see Geri leave Pasadena but somehow new that she wouldn’t leave Christ Child too far behind.  And Rebecca Smayda came to know about Christ Child after her aunt passed away.  Her aunt was a very caring and humble individual and after reading about Christ Child, Rebecca knew that Binghamton would benefit from having such an organization in their community.  Of course, it really doesn’t matter how you all came to Christ Child or what the look of our membership will be in the future.  All that matters is that we continue and carry on the legacy of Mary Virginia Merrick. Last week, Dallas Fort Worth had a Face Book post that says it all – “We started in April 2018 and have grown to almost 40 members.  Tonight was our new member orientation and I’m both humbled by how many folks are out there who want to make a difference, and motivated to grow our programs to bigger and better.  These ladies are my friends and inspire me to throw myself out of bed at 5:15 to check emails…life is good”.

 

On the membership issue – at the National level we continue to brainstorm ideas and share success stories and methods.  Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story, if we have energized and inspired members to carry out our mission.  One woman with one wagon started this organization for one child!  We continue to fight poverty, one child at a time.  I am proud of the work we do and hope that you all leave this conference with a renewed sense of energy and inspiration that you will share with the rest of your chapter!  Remember that you are not alone!  We are unique chapters of a National organization.  Let’s talk, share and draw strength from one another.  Let us move forward together!

 

Thank you to all members who attended Conference 2019!  We opened with a presentation on “The Legacy We Share” from Patty Myler (lots of great history on Mary Virginia Merrick).  Our keynote speaker, Meghan Cox Gurdon, was quite inspiring in her presentation of “The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud” followed by a book signing session of “The Enchanted Hour”.  We continued with a very informative talk on “Finding Grants & Proposal Writing for all Sized Chapters” by Elizabeth Madjlest of CANDID.  Our education portion of the weekend was concluded with a Membership roundtable and a seminar on “Nurturing the Seeds of Success in the Children you serve”.  If your would like any information on any of the above topics, please contact our National office.

 

Convention 2020 will be held at the Lowes Ventana in Tucson, on September 17th – 20th.  We encourage all members to make plans to attend.  A perfect time for a little getaway with your spouse, family members or friends!