Members and volunteers of the Order’s Savannah Developing Region had a busy November and December supporting the Social Apostolate’s programs to bring the holidays to their clients—homeless people and others living on the margin. The Social Apostolate is a Catholic Charities agency in the Diocese of Savannah whose mission is to care for and empower the poor, homeless, disabled, and others “at risk” in the Savannah area in witness to the biblical values of charity and justice. It has served as the major focus of our Savannah Region’s efforts for the past two years.
On November 24, a turkey dinner with all the fixings was served to more than 100 homeless. The Thanksgiving feast was the first sit-down meal for Savannah homeless since the pandemic began in March of 2020. The Cathedral Basilica of the St. John the Baptist lent tables and chairs that were set up in the parking lot of the Social Apostolate to support a socially distant event. Members and volunteers of the Order cooked, served, and cleaned up from the celebration.
Words cannot begin to express the gratitude that so many homeless men and women conveyed for the chance to sit at a table and eat a hot meal—something so many of us take for granted every day. All food services for the homeless in Savannah have been to-go since the pandemic began, so our homeless have been eating on curbs and park benches or using the top of recycle bins as a table. The Social Apostolate is the sole agency in Savannah providing hot meals to go for the homeless since the pandemic altered services. Members and volunteers of the Order are honored to provide the hot meal every Wednesday.
In December we supported two Christmas initiatives, one benefiting more than 200 at-risk families, and the second supporting the Social Apostolate’s homeless clients. We grew our volunteer ranks from 14 to more than 50 through outreach to golf groups and book clubs. Theresa Pottratz, DM, coordinated our volunteer team, as well as volunteers from several area parishes, to execute the Social Apostolate’s Christmas Blessings program, a toy and food drive for families. Members and volunteers gathered to wrap and pack donations from the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots into family packages. Later, they staffed the food and toy drive-by in the parking lot of St. James the Less Catholic Church. More than 200 families each received 20 pounds of food, and toys for their children. Local clergy, including newly installed Bishop Stephen D. Parkes and the Very Reverend Daniel Firmin, JCL, vicar general of the diocese, handed out food and toys or directed traffic at the Christmas Blessing program.
The final celebration was Christmas dinner for the homeless, served on December 22 at the Social Apostolate. Approximately 90 homeless were served a hot Christmas meal and given two wrapped gifts, a blanket and a sweat suit, all provided by St. Peter the Apostle parishioners. Members and volunteers of the Order participated as cooks and servers, and distributed the gifts to the homeless.
For our emerging Savannah Region, it was certainly a season to remember as we served our lords the poor and counted the many blessings in our own lives.