St. Mary School holds clothing and book drive


St. Mary School holds clothing and book drive
St. Mary School students collect, sort and organize over 1,500 books and roughly 1,000 clothing items. (Photo/Courtesy)

SHREWSBURY – St. Mary School is giving back.

The Shrewsbury-based school from Nov. 27 to Dec. 11 held a clothing and book drive that collected 1,550 books and 990 items of clothing.

“I was really overjoyed and, quite honestly, a little overwhelmed with the amount of support. We don’t have a lot of space here, so we were coming up with some creative ways [to store the items]. We were putting things under tables. We made it work. We made it happen,” said Service Club Coordinator Helen Collins, who led the club that coordinated the drive.

The items were donated to Columbus Park Preparatory Elementary School in Worcester. The books were wrapped and each Worcester student received a book for the holidays. St. Mary School also does another drive in May, giving the Columbus Park students books for summer reading.

This was the first year clothing was collected as part of the drive.

“The clothes — that actually came about because Helen [Collins] spoke with the principal at Columbus Park and discovered that where they store the clothing for their students was flooded over the summer. So, they were in desperate need of not just coats and hats and gloves, but everything for their students,” Admissions and Marketing Director Tina Gillaspie said.

St. Mary School Service Club, open to fifth- through eighth-grade students, organized the drive. The club seeks to promote “service over self,” and helping Columbus Park was no small undertaking. According to Collins, Service Club members delivered speeches to classrooms explaining the purpose and importance of the drive. Students created flyers and checked the donation bins daily.

Typically, the Service Club meets once to sort all the items, but with the influx of donations, they needed two sessions this time. Collins said five different cars helped transport the materials.

“Our community — the school community, the Shrewsbury community: very,very generous. Once we got the word out there about the need and who was going to benefit, it took on a life of its own,” said Gillaspie.

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