WINTHROP — In February, the faith formation children at St. Francis Xavier Church in Winthrop, led by a determined senior at Winthrop High School, worked together to make life a little easier for Maine foster children waiting for placement in a new home.
“I was brainstorming a project that could involve the community, as well as help the younger generation who is in need,” said Maddie Weymouth, a 12th grader at Winthrop. “I reached out to Mrs. Kelley Hooper, who is a senior planner for DHHS in the TANF/ASPIRE Unit. She is also the chair on the Winthrop Public School Board and an organizer for the faith formation and sacramental preparation group at St. Francis Xavier Church.”
It didn’t take long for the individuals and groups to get on the same page with a shared goal of making a difference in the lives of children going through a tough and emotional time.
Maddie decided to create entertainment packs.
“To have something to entertain them while waiting for a placement,” she said.
The packs would contain a variety of games, stress relievers, and toys.
“To fund the project, I created an Amazon wish list of all the things I felt would be of use. The list was posted on the high school Facebook page and sent through email to community members.”
In one day, everything was sold out.
“I was completely blown away by the support of the community!” said Maddie.
In February, children from the St. Francis Xavier faith formation group created 50 large packs, which were delivered to the DHHS office in Augusta for distribution to children in need starting this week.
“The cart was overflowing with boxes, and the employees were so thankful,” said Maddie.
The positive impact of the initiative extended beyond the recipients of the packs to those who assembled them as well.
“This was a great opportunity for us to discuss ways to be the light in the lives of others and recognize that we likely never know what someone else is going through, so compassion and love are always the best drivers in our interactions with others,” said Kelley. “Before the packs left, two other catechists and I stood in a circle around the bags with outstretched hands and prayed that the children receiving the bags know they are loved and will be cared for.”
“From the bottom of my heart, I am so thankful for everyone’s assistance in reaching my goal, “ said Maddie.
Materials left over were donated to Winthrop High School for students who are feeling anxious or distracted and need help refocusing.