Christ House: The Contagious Joy of Christmas Charity in Action

By: Mariann Hughes, Office of Communications

Against a festive background of holiday wreaths and a Christmas tree, two small, brown-haired brothers bounced eagerly on their knees beside a monstrous heap of brightly wrapped gifts, inspecting the packages closely and then excitedly trading them back and forth. “How about this one?” “No, this one!” “I wonder what’s in here?” “This one looks super cool!”

Bishop Loverde helps volunteers prepare the feast.

However, the typical Christmas scene ended there; no paper was ripped away from the presents after they were shaken and squeezed. No shouts of glee were uttered over a much-wanted toy, although the boys laughed and chattered merrily over their task. Instead, after scrutinizing a wrapped present, each boy hopped up and darted to the other side of the room, creating smaller, individual piles across its length. Soon, an elderly woman shuffled softly into the decorated waiting room. “Do you have a present for me?” she asked one of the boys.

His round brown eyes lit up. “Yes, I do!” He ran to one of the small piles, selected a large gift bag and lugged it back to the woman. She caressed the gift inside and asked, “Is it socks?” His tiny brow furrowed. “I don’t know. Do you want socks?” “Yes,” she replied simply. The boy assured her, “O.K., we can get you socks.” He turned around and scurried back to his brother who was still busily sorting out gift bags for the homeless. “She wants socks, do we have any socks?” And the boys burrowed through the collection until they found a pair of socks for the cold woman. “Merry Christmas!” they shouted.

The young brothers were not the only ones who came to Catholic Charities’ Christ House on Christmas Day to spend time with the less-fortunate. Their parents were among the laughing and joking volunteers who worked away, slicing turkeys, stocking shelves, handing out gifts, serving pie and chatting with the guests who came to the shelter in Old Town Alexandria seeking the community and a hot meal Christ House supplies on daily basis, but in a special way on Dec. 25.

Volunteers serve up a Christmas feast!

Assembly line-style, delicious holiday fare made under the supervision of a chef was heaped onto plates and passed down to Bishop Loverde, who ladled gravy over everything and handed the plate to a waiting teen, who set it before a hungry guest, trading banter and well wishes. Ben, the three-year-old son of two guests, ran happily around the tables, making new friends and bringing grins to the faces of some of the more elderly diners. Cups were filled, bread baskets were passed and Christmas music played in the background, while Charities’ president, Art Bennett, kept out a watchful eye for dessert-seekers and empty cups needing refilling.

Christ House has been providing meals and emergency assistance since 1973. Each year, Christ House provides over 20,000 meals, operates a thrift shop and gives emergency assistance. More than 150 volunteers contribute their time and talent annually to the important work of Christ House.

If you would like to help spread the contagious joy at Christ House year-round, visit here to learn more information on ways you can help in the months ahead.

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