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Archdiocesan Giving Tree reaches out to less fortunate

By Adrienne Cullen
Posted: 1/5/2007

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Kent Wilkens shows one of the toys donated through the Giving Tree program to Father Michael F. McLellan of Holy Family Parish in Dorchester as Alvin Nuñez (left) collects other toys to bring to the parish van waiting outside. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy


BRIGHTON-- Boston Archdiocese employees found a simple way to reach out to people in need this Advent season.

Kent Wilkens, claims manager for the archdiocese’s Office of Risk Management and Insurance was instrumental in organizing a Giving Tree program that made celebrating Christmas easier for parishioners at Holy Family Parish in Dorchester.

“This time of year it is just good to give to people who are less fortunate than ourselves,” he said.

Father Michael F. McLellan, pastor of Holy Family brought two helpers from his parish, Alvin Nuñez and Eneudy Cabral, to the chancery building Dec. 22 to load up a van full of toys and other gifts bought as a result of the program to bring back and distribute to parishioners in need.

Beginning in mid-November two Giving Trees, one in the main chancery building and the other at Peterson Hall were decorated with small cards indicating the age and gender of a child to receive a gift. There were also cards asking for donations of winter gloves and hats as well as gift cards to Target, Stop and Shop and Shaws. Employees were encouraged to choose a gift card and bring the unwrapped gifts to the chancery building where Human Resource receptionist Lynne Antonellis gathered them in her office. Antonellis called Wilkins when gift cards came in so that he could put them in a secure place.

“It worked out very well,” said Wilkens.

Wilkens said that close to 85 cards were selected from the trees. In addition to toys there were a “huge number of gift cards” which would help families buy whatever they needed, he said.

This was the first year for the archdiocesan Giving Tree and Wilken’s said he hopes it will become an annual program with Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley choosing a different needy or inner-city parish each year as the beneficiary.