CHARLESTON—When the idea for an annual food drive first came up, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone had no idea it would mean giving up his garage. But that’s what happened.
Five Charleston schools participated in the first ever “Mickey’s Christmas Mission” and together they collected 6,750 pounds of food to help stock hard-hit pantries.
Don Glover, the bishop’s residence administrator and chef, came up with the idea for the drive. Glover and Wade McDaniel, maintenance supervisor for the Diocese of Charleston’s chancery, collected and distributed the goods. They had to commandeer the bishop’s garage to store all the cans, boxes and bags of food.
A group of first-graders from Charleston Catholic, who inspired the older students to try and keep up, ended up winning the grand prize of a Christmas party at the bishop’s house.
Nicolletta Cassell said her son Mattia was so excited he woke up at 4 a.m. and was dancing around the house, singing, “we’re going to the bishop’s house!”
The students were greeted by Mickey, the bishop’s dog, who submitted to gentle pats. Then the 6- and 7-year-olds decorated the bishop’s two Christmas trees, and hung handmade ornaments on a small tree for his office. Gabriela Tay skipped the tree and presented her ornament directly to Bishop Guglielmone, who all the children looked at awe-struck.
Not so with Santa Claus, who came knocking on the door just before cookies were served. He was greeted with shouts and hugs as he dug in his bag and handed out gifts to the students. When Santa tried to leave, he had trouble with the doorknob, and explained to the children that he’s not used to doors, he’s used to chimneys. The bishop kindly pointed out the fireplace in the next room.
The 18 boys and girls also sat at the bishop’s table and enjoyed cookies and lemonade with him.
Some of the children shared secrets with the bishop and told him they collected so much food by doing chores such as folding laundry, raking, and spreading pinestraw.
“And I had to do everything my mom told me,” Robert Schaaf said.
“This is an awesome group of kids and they just took up the challenge and ran,” said Kathy Kandl, their teacher.
Although the first-graders were the winning class, the title of winning school went to Blessed Sacrament, which collected 2,005 pounds of food. They were followed by Charleston Catholic School with a total of 1,956 pounds, Summerville Catholic with 1,269 pounds, Divine Redeemer with 923 pounds, and St. John with 597 pounds.
The food was distributed to Our Lady of Mercy Outreach on Johns Island, St. John Church, and Echo House and Neighborhood House in Charleston.
Other schools were already involved with drives, such as Nativity, which participates in World Food Day each year and donates their collection to the OLM Outreach.
Sandra Leatherwood of the Catholic Schools office said they are planning to extend the food drive competition to other areas of the diocese next year.