Charlie Celtic, staff writer

This holiday season, caring for those in the community is more important than ever. At Providence Catholic, students led the way on many initiatives to give back to their communities, from food drives to coat drives and more.

“The holiday season is a time to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives, and to pass on those blessings to others,” says Father John Merkelis, O.S.A. “For many, the holidays are more difficult than they have been in the past, and if we have an opportunity to provide some comfort at the holidays, we are grateful to do so.”

Initiatives led by students include:

  • Senior Taylor Issa led a coat drive for Together We Cope in Tinley Park, along with the Augustinian Youth Ministry at Providence Catholic.
  • Girl’s Basketball participated in a service project for The Care Kit Foundation. Freshmen through seniors players participated and collected necessities to benefit a local women’s domestic violence shelter.
  • Providence Catholic and Benet Academy hockey players joined together to support a special cause – Toys for Tots! More than twenty bins of toys were collected by the teams and will go to make Christmas bright for many area children this holiday season.
  • This year, the Men’s Club and Providence Catholic Women’s Club joined together to host the annual United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation – Chicago toy drive. Most years, the average toy collection is around 80 – this year, through the idea of creating an Amazon.com wish list, the Providence Catholic community donated over 250 toys to Toys for Tots!
  • Senior Habitat for Humanity Club members spent their Thanksgiving break and a weekend in December building a home.
  • PCHS senior Jake Rybka turned to social media with a call to help Mission22 – an organization devoted to preventing veteran suicide. His post caught on and he collected numerous gifts and a $500 cash donation that will go to help veterans.
  • Augustinian Youth Ministry members wrote Christmas cards for New Lenox nursing homes. Here’s a challenge, Celtics: take ten minutes in the next few days and hand write a few cards to a local nursing home. Think of the joy that would come to their residents if a lot of people did a few cards each!
  • Senior AYM director, Abby Pierson, led a pajama drive for the Augustinian Youth Ministry. The pajamas were donated to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital.
  • The T.A.S.C. Club (Take a Stand to Cancer) ran a drive for gift cards to brighten the holiday of patients at Joliet Oncology Hematology Associates, Ltd. (JOHA).
  • Augustinian Youth Ministry members wrapped gifts donated by the PCHS community for St. Coletta’s. St. Coletta’s mission is to serve children and adults with intellectual and develop-mental disabilities so they can achieve their greatest potential.
  • Providence Catholic High School hosted a Food & Sock Drive to restock local food pantries and benefit the homeless.