AUBURN — In an effort to help countless children and families in need during what looks to be a difficult Advent for many, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Auburn and Catholic Charities Maine are working together to host “Jolly Gifts,” an initiative that aims to warm hearts and offer support to parish and community members as they prepare for Christmas.

All are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or gift to the “Jolly Gifts” display in the entrances of the parish churches (Sacred Heart Church on 8 Sacred Heart Place in Auburn and St. Philip Church on 2365 Turner Road in Auburn) between Nov. 21 and Dec. 13. Participants can also drop off their donations during business hours at the offices of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish on 24 Sacred Heart Place (Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).

“Gift suggestions would be simple board games, dolls, action figures, arts and crafts activities for older children, or sports items,” said Deacon Denis Mailhot, parish social ministry coordinator for Immaculate Heart of Mary.

All items donated will be given to Catholic Charities Maine which will distribute them to families in need that have been referred to the organization by community partners.

“Our parish was overwhelmed by the generosity and number of children’s Christmas gifts donated last Christmas,” said Deacon Denis. “We hope that working with Catholic Charities Maine again this Christmas will provide gifts to needy families, providing many children with joy and happiness, as families struggle during the COVID-19 virus.”

“We see the power of giving every day at Catholic Charities Maine,” said Bill Wood of Catholic Charities Maine’s Parish Social Ministry. “To see these children and families smiling as they receive these gifts is so impactful. You realize that these are more than gifts, they are feeding the spirit as well.”

For more information about “Jolly Gifts” or to make a financial donation to the initiative, contact Deacon Denis at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish at 207-782-8096, ext. 1203, or Bill Wood of Catholic Charities Maine at