BANGOR, Maine — Students at All Saints Catholic Church on Thursday laid blankets, diapers, powder, bottles, clothes and toys at the foot of a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at St. John Catholic Church on York Street.
The pile of gifts looked as if a baby shower had been held for Mary, even though she most likely would not recognize disposable diapers and wipes.
In all, more than 280 items were donated to new and expectant mothers living at St. Andre’s Home on Ohio Street just before a morning Mass on Mary’s feast day.
Lauren Ismail, 11, of Glenburn said the event was an important part of Advent.
“Jesus is about to be born on Christmas,” Lauren, who brought a green and pink baby outfit to church, said after Mass. “It’s a very special time because he’s our Savior.”
Ryan Britt, 12, of Hermon brought a baby-sized shirt and a sippy cup for a toddler.
“As a school, we help other charities and people in need,” he said after the Mass. “It’s what Catholics should do.”
Abigail Roy, 13, of Bangor was just as practical in her choices. She purchased diapers, wipes and baby cereal.
“It’s a Catholic duty to help others,” she said. “When we help others, they see that they also can go help other people, including less fortunate children and mothers.”
The St. Andre Home, which is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Good Samaritan Agency, was founded nearly 40 years ago. Originally, it was for pregnant clients who had nowhere else to go. Today, it is a program for children and for mothers who need to acquire parenting and life skills.
“The child is our client,” Eileen Ward, the clinician at St. Andre’s, said Thursday afternoon in a telephone interview. “Our capacity is for five children. Sometimes that is five mothers, sometimes it is less because a mother may have more than one child. Sometimes, they come in with adequate clothing, and other times they have significant needs.”
The average stay is between five and seven months, she said.
“We always have full house,” Ward said.
St. Andre Home Inc. operates similar facilities in Biddeford and Lewiston.
Principal Joe Gallant said students at the school participate in similar service projects throughout the year.
“It’s important that the kids know that our faith teaches us the need to give back because God blessed us with so many things,” he said.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary recognizes the day the mother of Jesus was conceived without sin. Dec. 8 is a holy day of obligation for Catholics, when they are obligated to attend Mass. Since 1847, Mary has been the patroness of the United States.