By Ed Larson
Project Help began 51 years ago at Rutland’s Mount Saint Joseph Academy high school. It’s a project designed to assist needy families in the Rutland community during the holidays with nourishment as well as gift items.
According to Project Help organizers, 90 to 100 families will benefit from students who created what staff members called the “MSJ Grocery Store,” last week.
There were table after table of vegetables, cereals, box items, breads, pasta, hundreds of loaves of bread and more in the school gymnasium. The entire west wall of the gym was stacked deep with empty boxes to assist those who would come to the school to obtain needed food supplies.
On the stage were dozens of gifts, already wrapped. Many contained coats and toy items donated by such organizations as the Knights of Columbus and Operation Dolls according to Enrollment Coordinator Bill Bruso. Bruso stated that the school receives a list of needy families from other area schools as well as Vermont Catholic Charities. The various families are invited to come and select items from the neatly stacked food stuff in the gymnasium.
Cash contributions were also accepted and are utilized to support purchases for both this year and the next year’s Project Help.
Setup began on Wednesday, Dec. 18, as students such as Thomas Harris, a junior at MSJ, and 2018 Alumni Nicholas Moise took part in the stacking of the food tables.
On Thursday, Dec. 19, students along with adult volunteer coordinators went door to door in the city of Rutland collecting additional food items. By the end of the day the tables were filled as vehicle after vehicle returned to the campus to off load. On Friday, Dec. 20, numerous hams and turkeys were distributed.
Principal Alexander talked about the “huge operation” that takes place during basically two days in December.
Alexander called it “An opportunity for young people to be a part of something bigger than their span of companionship.”