Maria Regina High School Students Celebrate Meaningful Holiday Season
The students of the renowned all-girls Catholic Maria Regina High School (MRHS) celebrated another banner season of giving back meaningfully to several essential community causes.
The series of campaigns began with a Thanksgiving food drive to benefit St. Peter-St Denis Church’s Food Pantry in Yonkers. In the spirit of the meaning of Thanksgiving—to love, care and share—the students not only donated 276 frozen turkeys but 200 food bags packed with 3,770 canned and boxed nutritious food items that they had purchased in the weeks before the holiday. Their generosity and energy made it possible for families in need, including children, to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal.
Simultaneously, MRHS students embarked on several other back-to-back initiatives leading to Christmas. Despite freezing temperatures, 40 students recently slept overnight in cardboard boxes in the school’s courtyard to help raise awareness and support for the unsheltered homeless, again several of whom are children.
The students’ efforts marked the school’s 20th Box City Campaign. In addition to sacrificing the warmth and comfort of their homes to experience some of the challenges facing the homeless, they collected and donated personal care items including toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorants, soaps, shampoos, hand sanitizers, wash clothes and socks as well as raised some money for this cause. In MRHS’ 20 Box City campaigns, students have raised about $50,000 to help the homeless in Westchester communities and New York City.
Continuing a Maria Regina tradition, students conducted a whole-family Christmas drive for Mercy Center (www.mercycenterbronx.org), the community nonprofit committed “to empower women and their families in the South Bronx to liberate themselves from economic poverty.” The students set a goal to collect and donate gifts to all members of 100 families, including parents and children served by the Mercy Center, and create personalized Christmas cards.
The students created Christmas cards for each of the 169 children at Elizabeth Seton Children’s, the renowned and pioneering Yonkers-based provider of care, education, and hope for children afflicted with some of the most challenging medical conditions.
And Christmas would not be complete without a toy drive. For the first time the school initiated an Alumnae in Service Project, entitled Maria Regina Cares, to benefit The Cardinal McCloskey Community Services (CMCS) Holiday Toy Drive. Under the leadership efforts of Jeanne Mastoloni Almeida ’79, legacy students acted as ambassadors in the initiative by encouraging others to bring in toys and overseeing the toy collection at morning drop-offs. They were joined by more than 10 legacy mothers and daughters and other alumnae who sorted and wrapped the gifts at CMCS headquarters in Valhalla.
As a result, more than 300 toys and items were collected for girls ages 12-18 years old who live in communities served by CMCS. “We are thrilled with the success of this initial effort to show how the alumnae of Maria Regina continue to live out the mission of the Sisters of the Resurrection years after graduation,” said Elizabeth O’Keeffe Cleary, MRHS Director of Advancement, adding: “This meaningful project resulted in spreading joy during the Christmas season and, in addition, brought alumnae, students, and parents together.”
Principal Maria Carozza-McCaffrey ‘99 added: “It’s impossible to quantify the many and varied ways the extended Maria Regina family contribute not only during the Christmas season but throughout the year as well, quietly and without fanfare. The students are mirror images of the charitable and joy-filled Mission the Sisters of the Resurrection built this school upon.”
For more information, visit www.mariaregina.org.