March 15, 2024

Pre-National Eucharistic Congress service event allows Hoosiers to help those in need encounter Christ

National Eucharistic Congress logoCriterion staff report

The archdiocesan Catholic Charities-Social Concerns ministry and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Indianapolis Archdiocesan Council are teaming up to launch a pre-National Eucharistic Congress (NEC) service project that will allow Hoosiers to help those in need throughout the country to receive both a package of hygiene items and an encounter with Christ.

“Buying hygiene items is a luxury for so many individuals within our communities,” says Theresa Chamblee, archdiocesan director of Catholic Charities-Social Concerns. “Offering a simple gift of a hygiene care package helps provide dignity and hope to those who may feel forgotten. And giving them in person allows both the giver and the recipient to encounter Christ in each other.”

All are invited to participate, whether or not attending all or part of the NEC in Indianapolis on July 17-21.

The community-led project involves groups gathering specific, essential items for those in need, coordinating a date for community members to fill gallon-size Ziploc bags with the items, and dropping them off at the St. Vincent de Paul distribution center in Indianapolis through June 1.

Some bags will be distributed during the NEC through opportunities to meet Christ in and be Christ to those living on the streets in Indianapolis.

Other bags will be distributed to those attending the congress, to create such encounters in their own communities throughout the country.

All groups in the archdiocese are invited to coordinate a local project—parishes, parish ministries, schools, youth groups, lay apostolates, councils and auxiliaries such as the Knights of Columbus, Knights of Peter Claver and St. Vincent de Paul, and more.

The first step of the project is to advertise and coordinate a local donation drive for these specific items (note—name brand doesn’t matter but are simply listed as examples):

  • gallon-size Ziploc bags in which to pack the items
  • large socks
  • individually wrapped soft food items, such as Nutrigrain bars or small, single-serve trail mix packs
  • individual packs of body wipes
  • individual packs of handwipes
  • trial- or travel-size toothbrushes
  • trial- or travel-size toothpaste
  • trial- or travel-size lotions (less than 3 ounces)
  • compact-size Mylar blankets
  • rosaries with instruction cards
  • small, handmade index card with Scripture quote or message affirming the person’s value.

Trial and error have shown that one of each of the above items will fit into a one-gallon bag. For example, one pair of large socks, one Nutrigrain bar, one lotion, one Mylar blanket, etc.

Next, project coordinators can set a date for the community to create the hygiene care packages.

The complete bags must be delivered by June 1 to the loading docks on the south side of the St. Vincent de Paul Distribution Center, 1201 E. Maryland St., in Indianapolis, between 10 a.m-3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“Pope Benedict [XVI] said, ‘Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities—I can give them the look of love which they crave,’ ” said Chamblee, quoting the late pope’s words from his 2005 encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est” (“God is Love”).

“Those who participate in this project will make both the ‘outward necessities’ and ‘the look of love’ possible in Indianapolis during the National Eucharistic Congress, and all over the country afterward,” Chamblee added.

(For more information on this project, go to or contact Theresa Chamblee, archdiocesan director of Catholic Charities-Social Concerns, at or 317-236-1404.)

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