Villanova donates 4,500 cans, hundreds of toys to those in need



By Jolene Perron


Nearly 650 families have been affected by St. Thomas of Villanova’s Adopt-A-Family Christmas program over the last 14 years.

This year was no different.

Not only did the 1,200 students come together to purchase gifts for families in need, but they also collected 4,500 pieces of non-perishable food items, which were distributed to two local food banks – Essex Area Food Bank and the Devine Mercy Food Bank, which is affiliated with St. Vincent De Paul.

Staff and students at Villanova donated cans and toys to those in need recently.

Department head of special education Maggie Ducharme explained first they hold the canned food drive, and then they have “adoption day” where they set up tags on a Christmas tree, and classes can choose which family they want to adopt. The members of the class bring in money or gift donations and they collect everything that family needs.

Ducharme explained it’s not just classes who do this, it’s administration, parent council, support staff, and anyone else who is involved within the school. They all work together to sponsor the families.

Villanova has helped food banks and charitable groups again this year.

“I just start around Halloween getting information from our organizations,” explained Ducharme. “I’ve worked with most of them for a long time and so it is just preparing the cards and figuring out which classes want to adopt. It’s a bit of a process but it’s extremely rewarding when you see the results.”

Ducharme said she and her many coworkers at the schoolwork together with the two food banks as well as the Children’s Aid Society to assist the families in need.

After all the cans are collected and the gifts are purchased, the school holds a special mass where the students bring all of the gifts forward. Representatives from each of the benefitting organizations are also invited to attend.

Coordinator from Devine Mercy Foodbank Yvette Drouillard explained without the help of Villanova staff and students, their shelves would be “minimal.”

“It’s astounding the number of canned goods and boxes of cereal and pastas we get from them,” said Drouillard. “It’s so wonderful to see when the kids come up with the boxes of toys and you can tell the spirit of giving is there and I think that Maggie and teachers there do a good job because lets face it, we’re all here to help one another. I think you have to have great pride in them to say ‘wow.’ There is so much negativity against these kids but you have to see their giving hearts. They want to give. They want to help and I think it makes you feel good to know they are caring about somebody else in unfortunate situations.”


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