November 21, 2016
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7326 (Desk)
This year, 142 Thanksgiving baskets were donated by the Saint Anselm College community in the annual collection and blessing of complete Thanksgiving dinners for the disadvantaged, surpassing the 121 baskets provided in 2015.
In an annual tradition now in its 14th year, Saint Anselm College faculty, staff, students, the monastic community, administration, and entire departments collect and assemble the makings of complete Thanksgiving meals for families in need in the Merrimack Valley of New Hampshire. The baskets include whole uncooked turkeys, stuffing, potatoes, breads, vegetables, pies, beverages, decorations and more.
Baskets are distributed by New Hampshire Catholic Charities and the Merrimack Valley Assistance Program (MVAP). At the Blessing in the Abbey Church, MaryAnn Fraser of Catholic Charities illustrated the importance of the program, noting that 80 local families had expressed interest and appreciation for Thanksgiving baskets in 2016, when just 15 families were recorded in 2013. "This incredible event has grown steadily in size and meeting a need," she said. Added colleague Lisa Merrill-Burzek of Catholic Charities, "These baskets go to families that are struggling. They are a great help in their long journey to self-sufficiency."
Resettled families from Africa, North, South and Latin America, and Puerto Rico are recipients of Thanksgiving baskets via the Merrimack Valley Assistance Program (MVAP). "I wish you could see the faces of every person who receives a basket," said Lauren Collins of MVAP. "These are some of the most grateful people I've ever met."
Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo, president, Saint Anselm College, underscored the importance of charity and goodwill to the Catholic and Benedictine mission. "The year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis ended yesterday, chronologically," said DiSalvo, "but there is no end to mercy and opening one's heart."
Following a blessing by Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B., the baskets were loaded into waiting vehicles and delivered to individual families.
The Thanksgiving tradition is led by the Office of Campus Ministry at Saint Anselm College. It originated with the initiative of the late Sr. Pauline Lucier, C.S.C., campus minister in 2002. Sr. Pauline tirelessly developed an initial display of charity into an important annual event cherished by both those who donate and those who receive the baskets.
Photo: Assistant Campus Minister Andew Fellows carries Thanksgiving baskets into the Abbey Church to be blessed.