After spending 17 to 19 years at home with their family, it is a big change for our young adults who go off to college or join the military. Many of these young adults have grown up in our parish and leaving home also means finding a new church home while they are away. One way that our parish works to keep them connected to us is through the Outreach Gifts program, which puts together small care packages to send them during different times of the year.
“Right now, we have been sending them things right before Lent,” says group member Ann Perkins. “These packages include things like inspirational reading, snacks or candy, prayer cards or metals, rosaries or decade rosaries. We want them to know that we are thinking of them and praying for them.”
Over the years, the group has sent packages at different times of the year with various themes such as around Valentine’s Day or near finals. However, over the last few years, they have found that sending the packages near Lent has been a good time to reach out to the young adults.
“It can be so isolating to be away from home and this is a special way to keep them connected to their parish family,” Ann says. “The responses are very favorable as well. Some of the young adults will write back to us telling us how great it is to know that someone is thinking of them.”
The Outreach Gifts program has been sending out these packages for about eight years. The 12 members of this group meet when they are putting the packages together. This gathering is always a fun time for the members to get together and, of course, many hands make for light work.
“The members involved are great friends and it is such a fun time to surround ourselves with such great people,” Ann says. “We really share a sense of camaraderie. When we get together to put together the packages, it is like a social event for us. It doesn’t take us very long and we always have a lot of fun doing it!”
We accept donations of items to send out, such as the reading materials, prayer cards, etc. We also accept monetary donations to cover postage. On average, the group sends out between 20-30 packages, with the majority of those being to college students. An announcement is placed in the bulletin to collect names and addresses of young adults to whom the packages may be sent.
To donate or get involved with this ministry, contact Beth Browning at 812-486-5783. To add any young adults to the care package list, contact Ann Perkins at 812-486-6654.