St. Albert the Great’s parishioners took the weekend of October 13 and 14 to be the hands and feet of Jesus, going to where they could lend a hand to spread the gospel by doing good. The Parish Day of Service started eleven years ago with about 400 volunteers spending one Saturday sorting cans of food or clothing at a donation site or doing some outdoor clean up. Like a huge oak tree grows from a small acorn, today the project has grown to almost 2000 volunteers donating their time and talent over one weekend to assist people, programs, and agencies that help others.
More than 100 projects were taken on by this year’s volunteers. Some parishioners braved the rain and chill to tend and clean gravestones at All Saints, Holy Cross, and North Royalton cemeteries. Family members previously requested the service be done in memory of their loved ones. Parishioners pulled weeds and spread compost at Crown Point Ecology Center, helped plant native trees in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, cleaned up landscaping at the Cleveland Christian Home, worked in Hinckley Reservation Metropark at Top’O the Ledges picnic area and other outdoor sites, as well as rake leaves for elderly North Royalton residents.
More than 1000 lunches and meals were provided for several locations. Some food was prepared and frozen for serving later. Blessing bags were prepared. A blessing bag is a bag that has necessities as well as comfort items for the recipient. Each type of blessing bag is unique to the population an organization is serving.
The Spangler family, Michael, Maria, Roman and Carolina, worked on Blessing Bags for MetroHealth Friends of Mothers and Infants. The bags contain layette items for newborns. Carolina said,” We helped new babies get what they need.” The organization distributes 250 layette bags per month. No-sew fleece blankets were prepared for Holy Family Hospice, The VA Hospital, and the Christ Child Society that provides items to children in homeless shelters. Kristen and Viviana Evangelista were able to make their snip-and-flip blankets at home. Emily Dottavio worked on this project with her brothers Benjamin and Dominic. Emily said, “It helps because it helps a lot of people, babies and kids in shelters.”
St. Michael the Archangel, St. Coleman, and St. Aloysius churches were given a bit of a clean-up. Items for distribution at various assistance sites were sorted and made ready for their new owners. Ron and Grace Blazak worked at Joseph House that works to help resettle refugee families in the Cleveland area. Joseph House is aptly named as St. Joseph fled with Mary and the Child Jesus to become refugees in Egypt. There were many more projects for this weekend and many projects are on-going ministries that continue through the year. When the work of the Parish Service Day was done, volunteers were invited to have some well-deserved refreshments after Mass on Saturday and Sunday. Even then volunteers were needed to help serve the volunteers. Olga Kushnir was one of those volunteers; her first volunteering job at that.
Why do the parishioners do it? The do it to spread the love of the gospel, to actively give to others, make new friends, and just maybe to have a bit of fun along the way. For more information about this or future Parish Service Days, please contact St. Albert the Great Parish, 440-237-6760.

Contributing Writer