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You might notice something colorful if you visit the food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul St. Rita’s Conference this month – or rather, a room full of color. In October, girls ages seven to eleven from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints collected, organized, and decorated over 200 “Birthday Bags” to share with families served by the local Roman Catholic diocese. Each bag includes cake mix, frosting, candles, plates and utensils – the essential ingredients for a sweet birthday celebration.
Unlike a typical food pantry, representatives from St. Vincent de Paul at St. Rita’s visit local families one-on-one to assess needs and donate food. According to Maury Bois, the Tucson Diocesan Council President, Birthday Bags enable moments of joy and celebration for families in tough situations regardless of their religious affiliation. “Last year, we brought them to several families, and the kids were really excited,” he said. “We usually bring in three or four boxes of food, and the kids zoned in on the decorated bags right away.”
On weekday evenings throughout October, nearly 100 girls from the Church of Jesus Christ started organizing Birthday Bags as part of their regular church activities. Crayons, markers and ribbons were strewn across tables as the girls cheerfully bantered and decorated brown paper lunch bags. They then assembled the supplies, careful to include complimentary cake and frosting flavors. “I feel so happy that I can help kids that I don’t know,” said Sadie, age 9. “I think they’re going to be very surprised, but very happy,” Lily, age 7, added.
Jessica Weinzinger oversees the girls’ church activities in the Tucson southeast area and said she hopes they will remember and learn from this experience. “Ultimately, our mission is to give them opportunities to serve each other, serve in the community, to become better at who they are, and learn to follow our Savior, Jesus Christ.”