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Putting faith into practice

Malverne teen sells homemade bracelets, donates proceeds to food pantry

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Stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic over the past few months, Malverne teen Christina Callahan said that boredom helped her stumble on a fun, meaningful project. In April, she said, she found string in her basement that she decided to turn into bracelets. Knowing the challenges that many families in the village are facing, she started selling bracelets for a good cause.

Since then, Christina, 13, has sold nearly 100 bracelets, and has donated $300 to Our Lady of Lourdes Church’s food pantry, which supports families in need. “I just knew that they help a lot of people, and I usually participate in their annual Souper Scavenger Hunt,” said Christina, who is also a parishioner at Lourdes. “I felt like because of what they do, they would be the best group to donate to now.”

A seventh-grader at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, Christina, with help from her mother, Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, offered her bracelets on social media, asking for minimum donation of $2 per bracelet. Christina said she collected seashells from beaches, poked holes in them and strung the shells together with embroidery thread. She started out with the goal of creating 11 bracelets based on the amount of orders she received at the time, and the effort seemed overwhelming at first. But, keeping the purpose of her project in mind, she kept at it.

“Christina is a very sensitive and passionate person,” said her mother, a former deputy mayor of the village. “She’s always thinking about others, and she knows that there’s people out there who don’t have food on their table. It was really very heartwarming.”

Before the pandemic, OLL ran a food pantry at the church twice a week for parishioners in need, and also in support of St. Vincent de Paul Society, a group that aids the poor. The Rev. Michael Duffy, the church’s spiritual leader, said it had temporarily closed the pantry when the lockdown went into effect in March, to protect volunteers. Seeing the increased need for food, however, the church ran a food drive March 19-21. In April, the pantry reopened on Tuesdays and Fridays.

“Anyone can come and get food, even if you’re not a resident of Malverne or a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes,” Duffy said. “We just want to feed the hungry.”

Christina’s contributions, he said, provided a spark for the church, and he added that her donations have inspired parishioners of all ages to donate. “These students have lost their academic year, and they don’t get to spend time with their friends and family,” Duffy said. “The fact that someone like Christina is thinking of other people, that’s what it means to put your faith into practice.”

As the pandemic went on, Duffy said, the need for perishable food increased, and Christina’s donations helped the church purchase meat, cheese and eggs. “This young parishioner of ours literally put food on people’s tables by her creativity and her thoughtfulness of other people,” he said. “It’s a testament to Malverne and to the quality of people here.”

Christina said she was still receiving orders for bracelets, and that she had a lot of supplies to work with for the next month. “It felt really good to do this, because I know people are struggling with money right now,” she said. “It’s really hard to get food on the table, and just to be able to help people get food at this time is really important.”

Those interested in purchasing bracelets can call Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick at (516) 697-7639.