Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Agency Joins With Parishes, Schools To Collect Gifts

Published December 7, 2006

Parishioners and students around Atlanta are packing up and delivering Christmas gifts for needy families served through the local Catholic Charities “Adopt-a-Family” program.

Parishioners from St. Brigid Church, Alpharetta, St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs, St. Joseph Church, Marietta, and Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta, along with families of elementary school students from Our Lady of the Assumption School, Atlanta, and Holy Redeemer School, Alpharetta, will provide gifts for over 500 families this year.

Coordinators for the project, which has grown every year, are Tom and May May Bickes of St. Brigid’s, where the northside parish also heads up one of the largest drives.

Tom said, “This is our 18th year of doing the Adopt-a-Family program, and it is amazing how rewarding it is for everyone involved. May May and I would like to thank the wonderful parishioners of St. Brigid that support the families, and the dedicated staff of Catholic Charities that help coordinate and administer this program every year.”

Jim Owen and his wife Jill, parishioners at St. Jude the Apostle, were recruited by Tom Bickes this year to join in the Adopt-a-Family effort. They are coordinating gifts that will go to 98 families served by the Catholic Charities Cobb Community Outreach Center. Jim noted, “This is our first year, and the St. Jude’s family has eagerly accepted this Adopt-a-Family program. I can see that this will grow through the years and will become an annual appeal within our parish. Your (Catholic Charities) outreach, combined with today’s technology, has made the process of finding people willing to help these families very easy. Jill and I have both heard from numerous people saying that they look for opportunities like this every season to help the disadvantaged and they are so grateful that we have taken this on. … We have made new friends and met families within our parish that we normally would not have known, so the secondary blessing we receive after helping others is growing our base of friends.”

Scott Knowles, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at Holy Spirit Church, described the large and well-organized effort that is their “Christmas Angel” program:

“We reach out to our parish men’s club to assist us with organizing and delivering the gifts on ‘Sorting Sunday.’ It’s a big job and wonderfully ‘organized chaos.’ A lot of parishioners come together to make the Christmas Angel program work—we have Vincentians leading the various teams and acting as team captains to organize the various parts of it.”

Our Lady of the Assumption School participated this year by “adopting” 16 refugee families being served by the local Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services Program. This is the third year the school has sponsored refugee families for Christmas.

“There is nothing quite like the last day of the drive when we are sorting through all the gifts and organizing the items for delivery,” said Lori Quirk, the OLA Home and School Spiritual Life committee chairperson. “The generosity of the community is overwhelming. It makes you feel so good to know that someone’s life will be just a tiny bit easier because of something that we have done together as a Christian community.”

Holy Redeemer School’s kindergarten classes “adopted” 57 children this year from the Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Program, all affected by last year’s hurricanes. The gifts for the children will come in large brightly colored stockings, according to Lynne Bell, a Holy Redeemer parent.

Once the gifts are delivered to Catholic Charities downtown offices, staff and volunteers work to deliver all the gifts before Christmas Eve.

“It is a very busy time for us, but the Adopt-a-Family for Christmas program uplifts our staff in a unique way. We are so grateful to the parishes and schools that participate with us to make this outreach to the needy possible every year, and we see the true spirit of Christmas shining through them,” said Joseph Krygiel, chief executive officer and Secretary for Catholic Charities. “If more people could join with us to adopt families for Christmas, our program would have an even greater impact and bring hope and joy to many more of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.”


For information about the Adopt-a-Family program, contact Margaret Prickett, volunteer coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, at (404) 885-7271, or visit the Web site at