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Deacons at work in Santa Clarita, California:
Every Sunday in July, Deacon Jay Reiser greeted Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners after Sunday services and collected donations for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry. Hundreds of churchgoers participated, stopping to chat with Reiser and offer canned and boxed foods. Each week Reiser called on parishioners to donate a different type of item. One weekend it was boxed macaroni and cheese, jars of peanut butter, another canned meats. One weekend featured boxed cereal. More than $5,000 in both monetary and food donations were collected throughout the month. “People were so excited, they asked why we don’t do this every month,” said Reiser. “Collections at the food pantry go down during the summer, so this is often when the need is the greatest.” The food collection program was a part of a larger outreach program launched by Our Lady of Perpetual Help for the summer, dubbed “Summer in His Service.” Beginning in July, each month one of the church’s deacons leads an outreach effort. Reiser spearheaded the canned food drive. Deacon Dick Karl attempted to gain more church volunteers. Deacon Kevin McCarthy rounded up volunteers for a beach cleanup day. “This was a chance to highlight our deacons and let parishioners work alongside them,” said Margaret Shapiro, campaign coordinator for the parish. “We wanted to find a way to impact the parish and Santa Clarita and have a global impact.” Shapiro came up with the idea to have each of the deacons lead a project for the church, not only as a way to outreach into the greater community, but also to give parishioners an opportunity to meet the deacons and get to know them beyond seeing them assist at church services.
Photo: Martha Garcia