No. 81 | Traditions

The Holiday Project

Bringing comfort and joy to families in need since 1990

In 1990, John Grega, Director of Religious Studies, Character and Service, introduced the McDonogh community to the Holiday Project. The annual effort supports residents in Baltimore’s Sandtown Winchester through St. Gregory the Great Church. That first year, the School provided groceries and gifts for 25 families. Since then, McDonogh has made the holidays brighter for more than 5,000 families in need. 

Over the years, the School became the largest sponsor of the Holiday Project. Advisory groups, sports teams, homerooms, campus departments, and alumni purchased and wrapped gifts that were loaded into trucks and delivered to St. Gregory in time for the holidays.In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic not only created a high level of need, it also made it unsafe to collect and distribute packages as was done for more than 30 years. Still, the McDonogh community found a way to support families in need by providing them with gift cards. 

In doing so, the School learned an important lesson (that has carried on): the gift cards gave parents and grandparents the gift of dignity and choice. They used the cards to get their children what they truly needed and wanted. Gloria Williams, who has coordinated the project since the early 1970s, shares that holiday gifts are impossible for many families to purchase when every penny of their income must go to food and housing. It’s why, she says, “A lot of them just stand there and cry tears of gratitude when they see the gift cards from McDonogh.”  

In 2023, the Greatest Good McDonogh Holiday Project has pledged to sponsor 100 families. To support this important tradition, use this link to determine your contribution by Sunday, December 10.

Learn more about McDonogh School's rich history by visiting the archives online.

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