Because We are Catholic: Giving Gifts and Receiving Life Lessons in Return

Left to right: Sam Salari, 13, Alicia Weston, 10, Diego Mihura, 12, and Caleb Goyke, 8, are among 600 religious education and school students at St. Thomas More, Allentown, who filled Holiday Hope Chests for less-fortunate children in Lehigh and Carbon counties.

Sometimes the best Christmas gift you receive isn’t one wrapped in brightly colored paper.

About 600 school and religious education children at St. Thomas More in Allentown had the chance to learn that lesson this year as they prepared Holiday Hope Chest packages for those who are less fortunate.

“This is a blessing for the families of the parish because it fosters a spirit of community while giving the children a chance to put their Catholic faith to work in a way that is very real and relatable to them,” said Kevin Damitz, director of religious education.

The kids and their families shopped for small gift items to be placed in shoeboxes. In some cases, they used their own money. The boxes were wrapped and delivered to needy children in Lehigh and Carbon counties, in partnership with the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley.

“Faith is a big part of this,” said Sam Salari, 13, a seventh-grader at St. Thomas More School. “We want to be known as kind, generous and sharing people.”

“Doing this really makes me feel proud to help others, but it also reminds me that I should do even more good works in my life,” said Diego Mihura, 12, also a seventh-grader at the school.

Those are lessons – and gifts – that will endure long after this year’s holiday season is over.

“Because We Are Catholic” tells the stories of how the people of the Diocese of Allentown make a difference in the lives of others, bringing the Light of Christ to each other and to our community.