When the pandemic disrupted annual holiday traditions all over the world and here in the Baltimore area, a group of young professionals devoted to caring for the community didn’t miss a beat.

Bikes were among wish list items for the Catholic Charities Head Start SuperStores

The Alliance for Catholic Charities—which has about 30 members aged 40 and younger—turned their yearly toy drive for Catholic Charities’ Head Start and Early Head Start into an online endeavor.

For the first time, instead of bearing gifts as they showed up to gather and celebrate the season together, they logged on and found the Head Start SuperStore wish lists online, and kept their spirit of giving alive.

“I’ve heard for years about all the awesome work being done at Catholic Charities’ Head Start programs,” said Alliance member Beth Mayr. “Even though everything is so different this year, it was so special to still be able to pick out a few items to send to the Head Start SuperStore. The wish list made it easy for me to participate safely — plus the gifts arrived super quickly, in lots of time for the families to get them before Christmas.”

In 2019 and prior years, the Alliance hosted Toys & Trivia nights to benefit the SuperStore

Catholic Charities Head Start and Early Head Start of Baltimore City Director Erica Knox said the program was able to provide support for 191 families this season. All the families served by the Head Start and Early Head Start programs meet the federal definition of poverty, which means holiday gifts are often out-of-reach. The donations from Alliance members and others in the community help Head Start staff create a SuperStore, where parents spend credits they’ve earned by being involved in their children’s early childhood education and development. 

This year, 47 families received gift cards; 93 families received toys and/or clothing, and 51 families received gifts from church and family-organized giving drives.

For more on the Alliance for Catholic Charities: alliancebaltimore.org