September 27-28 marks the first of three weekends planned to kick off St. Catherine’s 2015 Shepherds of Service (SOS) volunteer activities. This first weekend focuses on “Take Care of the Children”. Opportunities will be available to sign up for various planned events at the Covenant House Crisis Center in Newark, Nancy’s Place in Montclair, and the Hope Residence at Eva’s Kitchen in Paterson. All of these locations serve either needy teens or homeless moms and their children, and St. Catherine’s Shepherds of Service have plans for monthly birthday parties and seasonal events, including barbeques, luaus, Easter egg hunts, Zumba lessons, and even a celebration of National Popcorn Day! One volunteer who attended one of the monthly birthday parties at Covenant House earlier this year, remarked, “These kids are so appreciative of simple things that we take for granted—like blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. It is so rewarding to see their big smiles and their gratitude for us taking an hour or two to celebrate their special day with them! “
The second sign-up weekend, scheduled for October 25 and 26, will highlight “Feed the Hungry” and information will be provided on St. Catherine’s sandwich making and lunch bag assembly for Bridges, an organization dedicated to caring for the homeless. St. Catherine’s SOS will continue to partner with Bridges to deliver lunches to homeless men and women in Newark on several Saturdays in 2015. Also scheduled are monthly shifts serving lunch in the soup kitchen at Eva’s Kitchen and three warehouse shifts at the N.J. Food Bank in Hillside. Volunteers at the Food Bank are put to work sorting canned goods, packaging bulk pasta, or whatever other tasks are needed that day. Whatever the job, the SCS team always has a good time working together.
The last weekend, scheduled for November 8 and 9, emphasizes “Love Your Neighbor.” Parishioners can sign up for activities planned with the residents of St. Vincent’s Nursing Home, such as game afternoons with the seniors. There are also a number of parish-based activities planned, including making holiday cards and decorations for St. Vincent’s and Covenant House residents, and decorating lunch bags for the Bridges lunch for the homeless program.
St. Catherine’s Shepherds of Service program is beginning its fifth year of serving the needy in the name of Christ. Hundreds of parishioners have participated in these activities in past years, and the volunteer spirit within the community is fantastic. Sign-up pamphlets with additional information will be available at St. Catherine of Siena Church, located at the corner of Pompton Avenue and Bradford Avenue in Cedar Grove.