Courtesy St. Mary’s Academy
St. Mary’s Academy students wrap Christmas gifts for families as part of an effort serving nearly 200 individuals in need.

Courtesy St. Mary’s Academy

St. Mary’s Academy students wrap Christmas gifts for families as part of an effort serving nearly 200 individuals in need.

Students, faculty, staff, parents and alumnae of St. Mary’s Academy braved December snow and ice to continue one of the school’s most cherished holiday traditions: donating and delivering food and gifts to some of the neediest families in the community. Partnering with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mary’s provided toys, gifts, clothing, food and household items to 39 families for the Christmas season — benefiting more than 80 adults and 100 children.

“The Christmas basket project is consistent with how we engage the community around the year,” said Maura Timoney, a St. Mary’s alumna and the school’s campus minister. “We try to make sure all of our service programming involves personal exchanges, relationship-building and hospitality,” she said. “With our Christmas efforts, we engage families to find out what they want and need and then deliver baskets to them personally. It’s one of the favorite days of the year for so many of us.”

Oregon’s oldest continuously operating high school and its only all-girls school, St. Mary’s Academy has for generations worked to carry out the commitment to social justice established by its founders, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Timoney says that while students at St. Mary's give throughout the entire school year during events and efforts like Doernbecher Week, Hands Full of Heart and immersion trips to impoverished communities within and outside of the United States, the Christmas season provides a particular opportunity for reflection: “It’s essential that our girls and our faculty and staff take time during what is often a self-centered time of year to look outside of themselves. The Christmas basket project helps all of us to see what is really important.”