The Gwynedd Mercy Community has supported Mercy Focus on Haiti for many years in a variety of ways. With immersion trips not possible at this time, they wanted to find a way to support Haiti from a distance. In January 2021, Sister Mary Sullivan, RSM, organized a pillowcase drive within the Gwynedd Mercy community.
This idea supports Mercy Focus on Haiti partners in Gros Morne, Haiti, and recipients of the food share program. Using these pillowcases ultimately reduces plastic bags as the recipients carry food to their families in the pillowcases instead. In addition to the pillowcases, a few other supplies were shipped for the women in Haiti, including 25 reusable female hygiene products and six handmade dresses. This project was doable even during the worldwide COVID pandemic since many students, faculty and staff weren’t regularly on the campus. The pillowcase drive was successful because many people have extra ones.
The school invited some community connections such as local churches and a high school honor society to collect more pillowcases to support this cause. In addition to helping them exceed their goal of 600 pillowcases, they also collected the money needed to ship them to Gros Morne. Some volunteers managed the collection sites; others washed and folded the cases while others did the final counting, bagging and packing of boxes.
The pillowcases were all packaged to go to The Parish Twinning Program Sea-Container in Nashville, TN, at the end of April when Andi Healy, our local connection to Mercy Focus on Haiti, decided to make the 13-hour drive from Gwynedd Valley to Nashville to deliver the pillowcases.
In June, Sister Jackie Picard, RJM, received the pillowcases in Gros Morne. Before distributing the pillowcases, Sister Jackie packed rice in them and enforced the importance of bringing their pillowcases with them when they returned for more food.
This service project shows the creativity of the Gwynedd Mercy Community. They worked together to figure out how they could still support the community of Gros Morne while staying home during a pandemic. Catherine McAuley would be proud!