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Related: Society founder was confined to bed, wheelchair

By Janis Fontaine

On a Wednesday morning in June, 17 women from the Christ Child Society of Boca Raton gathered in the Community Room at the Downtown Library for some serious business. So why were they all laughing?

“We’ve become very close friends,” former President Scarlett Fave said. “We’re a nice bunch of ladies.”

Serving God by serving others is nothing new. Sages say our burdens become lighter when we share them. Mary Virginia Merrick, founder of the Christ Child Society, said, “Find a need and fill it.”

For these women, nothing is too much to ask if it helps a child. According to the Kids Count Data Center, 16% of all children in the United States — 11.6 million kids total — lived in poverty in 2022. The percentage of U.S. children living in poverty peaked at 23% in 2012.

Every day, new mothers take newborns home from the hospital. For some, everything is ready. For others, nothing is. Working with the Palm Beach County Health Department, social service agencies and hospitals, Christ Child Society members pack hundreds of layettes with essential supplies for new mothers each year, as they did again in June.

Each layette contains at least four onesies, two receiving blankets, a pair of leggings, a hooded towel and washcloth, two sleep-and-play sets, two packages of diapers and a container of wipes, a bib and bottle, a book, and a super soft and fluffy white baby blanket.

12684851859?profile=RESIZE_180x180“The congregation of St. Jude Catholic Church in Boca Raton must be recognized for its contributions,” said Chris Wyns, president of the Christ Child Society of Boca Raton. The church hosts “baby showers” twice a year to encourage parishioners to donate clothes and diapers. “I picked up five huge bags full of stuff.”

This chapter is one of 45 in the United States. Each chapter welcomes nondenominational volunteers who can dedicate a few hours every month to serving the vulnerable children in the community. The Boca Raton chapter was founded in 1991 after eight members of the Palm Beach chapter split off into a South County chapter.

The Boca Raton chapter was chartered in 1992 and incorporated in 1996. Annual membership dues are $60.

Each chapter decides independently what project it wants to undertake, with guidance and suggestions from the national foundation. For Lorraine Gigli, a kindergarten teacher for 25 years, promoting literacy is key. She does this by ordering age-appropriate books for the layettes and cheerleading the group’s other annual project: the back-to-school backpack program, coming up this month.

Every school year, the chapter works with Boca Raton Elementary to fulfill its students’ specific school supply needs. The members fill backpacks using their tried-and-true assembly line and donate them to students at the Title 1 school.

The backpack program will meet at the library at 11 a.m. July 17. The program is fully funded through a legacy donation, but new members are always needed and welcomed. Of course, donations are never declined.

For more information about the Christ Child Society of Boca Raton, visit www.christchildbocaraton.org.

Janis Fontaine writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Contact her at fontaine423@outlook.com

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