Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Racquel Brewster of Grayson, Ga., left, and Taylor Hutt of Columbia, Md., both juniors at Spelman College, Atlanta, pack personal hygiene kits as others in the background select travel size items from the table for their baggies. Some 25-30 young adults gathered at Lyke House, the Catholic Center at Atlanta University, for the Jan. 16 service project.


Lyke House students put words into action

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published January 23, 2014

ATLANTA—College students and young adults put their faith into action Jan. 16 at Lyke House, the Catholic Center at Atlanta University Center, by creating hygiene kits for people in need.

Students and graduates of Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University assembled these concrete and intangible gifts as part of the weekend celebration of the life and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The young adults donated trial and larger size bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, powder, deodorant, lotion, bandages and other items. They also wrote messages of support on colored squares of paper and placed them with the toiletry items in plastic bags.

The bagged kits will be donated to the St. Francis Table ministry of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta. Hundreds of men, women and children regularly seek food, clothing and hygiene items from the Shrine’s ministry.

Ashley Morris, assistant campus minister and assistant director of the archdiocese’s Black Catholic Ministry, welcomed the young adults and shared his thoughts.

“Somebody, somewhere will receive your hygiene kit and read your message,” said Morris. “Write anything you feel in your heart.”

Morris also encouraged the young adults to think of times in their own lives when they didn’t have gas money to get to class, or enough to pay for a textbook and someone helped them out of Christian love.

This was the second year the kits were constructed as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend observance. In 2013, 140 kits were assembled for use by the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The amount of donated items this year far exceeded last year’s with many first-time attendees participating.

“We’re here to put soap, deodorant and the like in little baggies. But why?” asked Morris.

He recalled a conversation many years ago with someone adamant in the belief that salvation could not be found in performing good deeds. Morris said at that time he couldn’t really explain why he didn’t agree, but has thought about it a lot since then.

“Our ultimate goal as Christians is to return to God,” he said.

Morris pointed to the words of St. Augustine that because human beings were made for God, their hearts will be restless until they rest in him. He also emphasized Jesus’ teachings in the Gospel to feed his sheep, and to do for the least.

“We are given crystal clear instructions,” said Morris.

It isn’t about cajoling God, or trying to get to heaven on a technicality, or having “bullet points on a resumé,” he said.

In his message, Morris said that Christians are constantly moved to feed, clothe and take care of others because when they do these things they are doing them to Christ.

The packed hygiene kits, which included inspirational and spiritual messages, will be donated to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception’s St. Francis Table ministry. Photo By Michael Alexander

Clark Atlanta student Daryl Thomas was participating in the Young Adult Service Opportunity for the first time, although he has been active in many other Lyke House-sponsored activities.

“We always like to come out and support Lyke House,” said Thomas, a lead chaplain assistant at his school.

A junior from New Jersey, Thomas also said that the project is in keeping with the “community-minded” nature of Dr. King. “He always cared for people.”

When Thomas left home for school, he had not really intended to be active in Catholic student activities, but said God had another calling or plan for him.

“We all go to chapel together,” he said about his tablemates.

Janni Buggs, a young adult from Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta, was invited to help with the activity. Buggs described it as “good intentions put into action.”

She also believes it’s a good way to mark the Dr. King weekend.

“In my opinion he cared a lot about those in poverty,” said Buggs.

“It’s probably something he’d be really proud of,” said Spelman student Taylor Hutt about Dr. King.

Msgr. Edward Branch, Catholic chaplain of the Atlanta University Center, was also on hand to help stuff baggies. “Thank you for coming. Thank you a bunch,” Msgr. Branch told the young adults.

The Sister Thea Bowman Scholars, a group of five gifted singers, presented “Here Am I Lord: I Come To Do Your Will” and “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me.”

This year’s scholars—Kévin Borgella, Genevieve Cardos, Ian George, Ciara Porter and Kofi Vordzorgbe—represent Spelman and Morehouse colleges. Directed by Stephen Lee, the Mason D. Harper artist-in-residence, the Bowman Scholars provide music for the weekly liturgies at Lyke House Chapel.

In addition to the evening of service, Lyke House students participated in the Jan. 18 Mass for Martin Luther King Day at the Shrine, in the Youth Celebration Jan. 19 at St. Peter Claver Regional School in Decatur, as well as events at their respective schools.

Morris said that future service opportunities will be offered on a frequent basis, and that the hygiene kits were well received by the clients at St. Vincent de Paul last year.

Morris told the young adults that the personal care items are taken for granted by many, but might have allowed some in need to clean up for a job interview or to wash a child’s hair for the first time in weeks.

“It was one less worry,” he explained.

The messages of support are what stay with the needy long after the kit items have been used.

“God only gives the hardest battles to the strongest soldier. Stay strong,” read one note.

Another message was inscribed with these words: “May peace, love and joy be with you.”