ANDERSON—A small Catholic church in Anderson is celebrating the contributions of a longtime parishioner, pioneer and community leader as it launches an effort to help homeless children receive the supplies they need to succeed in the classroom.
Parishioners at St. Mary of the Angels Church are being asked to donate a variety of school-related items, from book bags to washable markers, between now and July 31.
The effort falls under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act passed by Congress in 1987 to protect the educational rights of children and youth trapped in homeless situations.
Franciscan Friar Michael Jones, pastor at St. Mary of the Angels, said the parish became involved in the program as a result of its ongoing effort to address the needs of the community.
“Our apostolate has always been the outreach to the poor,” Friar Jones said, “and we’re always trying to find new ways we can do that.” The school supplies campaign is a natural fit for the parish, he added, one the late Margaret Mack “would have been right on board with.”
Mack was a longtime parishioner at St. Mary of the Angels who passed away two years ago. She became the first African American to teach at T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson School District 5 when she was hired to teach English in 1968. Two years earlier, she was the first of her race to teach at Immaculata Catholic School in Durham, N.C.
Mack remained at T.L. Hanna for 38 years, followed by several years on the District 5 board of trustees.
“She was very well respected in the community,” Friar Jones said, “and very active in our parish with the women’s council, the parish council and in the choir.” She was also a very tough teacher, he said.
“I was hesitant to hand out agendas during parish council meetings because she would always correct it,” he recalled.
Her husband, Roy Mack, remains an active member of the parish, serving as an usher.
The women’s council at St. Mary of the Angels is leading the school supplies collection effort in coordination with the homeless liaison at Anderson School District 5.
Friar Jones said the school supplies campaign will become an annual apostolate for the parish.
“District 5 is the poorest school district in the county,” Friar Jones said. “It has quite a few homeless.”
For more information about the effort, call the church office at 864-226-8621.
Photo, Terry Cregar/Miscellany: Roy Mack and Candice Mack Harding hold a photo of the late Margaret Mack at St. Mary of the Angels in Anderson. A longtime parishioner and teacher in the Anderson city school district, Margaret Mack is being remembered as the parish collects school supplies for homeless students in the district. Candice is Roy and Margaret’s daughter.