Mychal’s Message is constantly amazed at what can be accomplished when one person says, “Yes.” Alone or combined with many others, one can make a difference.Blessed Bloomers XV
a jubilee collection dedicated to Robert and Sharon Hickey on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary
Robert “Bob” Hickey first met Father Mychal Judge in the 1960’s at St. Joseph’s Church in East Rutherford, NJ. Bob was an altar boy then who admired and respected Father Mychal for the special feeling he brought to the Mass. “He made me see the holiness and joy that was possible in this celebration,” Bob shared, and “his example surely changed my life.” Later, when Bob married Sharon, Father Mychal embraced her, and the two became fast friends. He even gave her a special gift —an antique high chair. Father Mychal knew Sharon loved antiques and said, “Everyone who loves antiques should have an antique high chair. This one is from 1890.” That high chair still holds a prominent place in Bob and Sharon’s home. As the years passed, their family grew, and as they faced the joys and sorrows of life, Father Mychal was there. Two decades later, when their granddaughter, Shannon, was born with a rare liver disease and needed a liver transplant, Father Mychal was there. “He was a caring man, a loving priest, a great friar, and my friend,” Bob shared.
Blessed Bloomers XIV
Dedicated to Fr. Cassian A. Miles, OFM, affectionately known as “Padre” or “Casey”
A dedication (and project description) in the form of a letter to Father Cassian A. Miles:
Description: Thirty children whose past stage experience includes performances at Sight and Sound, EPAC, Fulton Theatre, Susquehanna Stage Company, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre and American Music Theatre, come together to help make the wishes of local families in need come true this Christmas.
(with love and joy, and a “new twist”)
September through December 2014
The 2014 “new project” was really an “old project” with a “twist.” A twist of fate changed the lives of Mychal’s Messengers. Serious health issues fell upon us. Our hearts and minds were still on breadlines and in soup kitchens. Our thoughts were still of September 11 and our fallen heroes. We still cringed knowing just one of God’s children was in need of such basic items as socks and underwear. We wanted to be able to follow Father Mychal in his quest to follow Our Lord. But our days were filled with lab tests, doctor visits, operating rooms, and pharmacy purchases. We felt sadness and despair through this time, but we came through stronger in our faith and eager to continue our work, the work Father Mychal would be doing, the work Mychal’s Message does with great energy, love and joy.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-12
Blessed Bloomers XII
Christopher Lynch was just four years old when the first packages of Blessed Bloomers were being prepared for the homeless men and women who visited the St. Francis Breadline in New York City. In a family-created assembly line, Christopher’s role was to add two wrapped candies and a folded prayer card to each package. “Two mints and a prayer card,” he’d say as he completed each package. And from a bag of assorted candies, Christopher carefully selected two different ones for each package. As the packages piled up before him, the family stepped in to help. It was then that four year-old Christopher explained how important it was to put two different candies in each package. “If someone doesn’t like the yellow one (butterscotch),” he’d say, “they might like the red and white one (peppermint).”
Years later, when a group of teens gathered to help package Blessed Bloomers, Christopher, then a teen himself, explained and taught the importance of preparing each package with its recipient in mind. It is because of Christopher’s keen awareness of the needs of others that each package contained two different candies. And it is because of Christopher that today we still honor that tradition.
The Shoemaker's Gift
The Grimm Brothers’ classic fairy tale, The Elves and the Shoemaker, is the story of how a poor shoemaker gives away his last pair of shoes to a needy woman, leaving himself with enough leather to make only one more pair of shoes. During the night, elves appear and use the leather to create the most splendid shoes for the shoemaker to sell. A rich man buys the shoes, and the shoemaker uses the money to purchase food for his family and enough leather to make two more pair of shoes. Again that night, while the shoemaker sleeps, the elves return to create two more pair of shoes, as splendid and magnificent as the first. As the shoemaker continues to sell the shoes, the elves continue to make more. Eventually, the curious shoemaker hides in the shop to discover his mysterious helpers. When the elves return the next night, they find elf-sized jackets, pants and shoes, gifts left by the shoemaker and his wife. Adorned with their new clothing, the grateful elves leave the shoemaker’s shop for the last time. Their work is complete, and they leave behind a prosperous business for the kind shoemaker.
Was the Shoemaker’s Gift the last pair of shoes he gave to a needy woman? Was his Gift the spirit of love and generosity that sparked him to give those shoes away? Or was his Gift the elf-sized clothing he and his wife stitched together for the elves? Perhaps the Shoemaker’s Gift was the surprise he awoke to each morning when the most magnificent shoes appeared in his shop.
This Christmas season, Mychal’s Message will bring hundreds of inner-city children to see a live performance of The Elves and the Shoemaker where children will be inspired by the rippling effects of the Shoemaker’s Gift as his story comes to life on stage. Arts education studies prove that the performing arts boost literacy, cultivate imagination and raise standardized test scores despite cultural or socio-economic backgrounds. Live theatre also increases social skills and artistic abilities, produces creativity, strengthens self awareness, and encourages imagination.
As this season of giving nears, we all become elves—those who work in secret so the shoemaker can awake surprised and satisfied. Let us also challenge ourselves to become the shoemaker who, while unable to pay even his own rent, gave his last pair of shoes to a needy woman. Let us give the Shoemaker’s Gift to children who might otherwise never experience it. And perhaps, some of these children will grow up to be elves and shoemakers too.
Blessed Bloomers XI
September 11, 2012
A beautiful man with dark skin and a bushy white beard. He wore a tattered jacket. His lonely eyes peered out from under its hood. He walked with a wooden cane to help support his bent body. His tired feet were cracked and dry, covered only by a pair of rubber flip flops. He struggled to reach us … The two block journey from Penn Station was more than his tired, weakened body could bear.His heart was racing. He was out of breath and unable to speak. His name was Samuel.
It was September 11, 2005. We were distributing new underwear. We knew why he had come. As Samuel left us and went back to the streets, we understood why we were there. Love that September day took the form of underwear.
Samuel is real. His story is true. If only you could have been with us that day. (Story reprinted from Mychal’s Messenger, Summer 2006 issue)
A Coat for Shannon
In honor of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, Mychal’s Message conducted its annual coat drive that had - as of December 2011 - provided over 2,100 new winter coats to the homeless and poor.
In this project, we remembered our dear fallen friend, Father Mychal F. Judge, OFM. How we miss his presence in our lives. How we miss his guidance and his love. How we miss his soft voice at the other end of the telephone in the wee hours of the night. How we miss his prayers, to us and for us. We strive to walk in his footsteps and be like him in every way … as he followed St. Francis … who followed our Christ. We honor his love of the poor, the downtrodden and the homeless.
In 2011, we also celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Mychal’s Message founder Shannon Hickey’s life-saving liver transplant. If you know our story, you know that Father Mychal was an integral part of the faith and strength necessary to survive this transplant while living in a Ronald McDonald House 750 miles away from home.
When Shannon was just three days old, her Nana remembers holding her and wondering who she would become. “What will your favorite color be? What will you do with your life?” she whispered into Shannon’s ear. Shortly after that, Shannon was diagnosed with biliary atresia and would need a liver transplant to survive. At the age of 7 months, Shannon became the 17th patient in this country to receive a liver from a living donor (her mother). Just after returning from the operating room, Nana whispered in Shannon’s ear again … “I’m here and I love you. I’ll never leave you. Please feel this love and live.”
That was over twenty years ago, and Nana now knows that Shannon’s favorite color is pink, that she wants to work in broadcasting, and that her life belongs to God.
Once an eleven year-old little girl who had the heart, mind and love of someone much older, it was Shannon’s idea to collect socks for the homeless in 2002 that sparked our family into action. And it was Shannon, on numerous occasions, who has been seen giving away her own hat, gloves and scarf to homeless men and women on the streets. And so, in this anniversary year, Mychal’s Message was pleased to name the 2011 coat drive, “A Coat for Shannon.”
With your help, Mychal’s Message provided new warm coats, hats and gloves to the homeless and poor once again.
Blessed Bloomers X
September 11, 2011
It began with a simple pair of socks. With a child's idea. It began with a way to remember. To honor. To celebrate. And it was in the distribution of those first socks that a man on the Breadline at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City leaned in to ask us, "Do you ... do you happen to have any underwear?"
On that return trip home from the city, Mychal's Message co-founder Sharon Hickey. SFO knew she had to find a way to bring underwear to the men and women who needed them most. She prayed and pondered until she discovered the way. "I know what 1want for my birthday this year," she told her family. "Underwear." It was then that "Blessed Bloomers" was born.
As we marked the tenth anniversary of September 11, we were grateful to have witnessed how the simplest of gifts offered the greatest love, the greatest dignity. For it is in giving that we receive. And surely, we have received so much more than we have given.
As we remembered Father Mychal judge, OFM on the tenth anniversary of his death, or his birth into eternal life, we asked you to help us provide packages of "Blessed Bloomers" to the many men, women and children who rely on the kindness and generosity of others. We asked you to walk with us, as we followed in the footsteps of Father Mychal, who once filled his chaplain's car with new underwear and socks to be distributed among the homeless and poor. Let us remember. Let us celebrate. Let us honor the life of a man who changed the lives of so many.
Coats for Christmas
Fall 2010 - January 2011
The theme of the Mychal's Message 2010-2011 Winter coat drive grew from the loving heart and creative mind of co-founder Sharon Hickey, SFO who wrote the following adaptation of a famous poem in honor of this year's project.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas for Mychal's Message
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
The children were helping, not snug in their beds.
When out on the porch there arose such a clatter,
The moon on the street of the new fallen snow
More beautiful than eagles, more precious than gold.
We watch Carnivale and Patty Fitzgerald,
We watch Sister Leslie, Sister Mary and Fred,
To the line in the kitchen, to the church by the wall,
And then in a twinkling, I heard shouts of glee,
ResultsResults of this project will be posted shortly.
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Blessed Bloomers IX
June - September 2010
Mychal’s Message—the ministry—began with a simple pair of socks. And it was during that first sock distribution in New York City that a dark-skinned, round-faced man leaned in to quietly ask us, “Do you happen to have any underwear?” That man sparked the creation of a project we now know as Blessed Bloomers. And because of that man, we have returned to the streets of New York City every year on September 11 with packages full of Blessed Bloomers.
Results: In Blessed Bloomers IX, each package contained one undershirt, two underwear, two pair of socks, two mints and a prayer card. Nearly 400 packages of “Blessed Bloomers” were distributed to the homeless on the Breadline at St. Francis of Assisi Church, New York City on September 11, 2010.
A “chaplain’s car full” was sent with Franciscan Father Christopher Keenan, FDNY Chaplain, for the homeless of Harlem later that same day. And the remaining packages were distributed to the homeless at St. Francis Inn (soup kitchen) in Kensington in Philadelphia, PA later that month.
In all, thanks to your kindness, we were able to distribute:
Thank you all!
Now in its 6th year, Home Sweet Home was created by Shannon Lynch to help high school students better understand the plight of the homeless and to raise funds for Mychal's Message. Nearly 100 students from the Lancaster area attended this year's event.
The event was eloquently recapped by one of the chaperones in an email to a colleague:
Inspired both by the work of Mychal's Message and the 912 Project, a family from North Olmsted, OH created the Fleecies for Friends project. Using donations from neighbors and their own piggy banks, the seven children in this family purchased fleece to make blankets, which they donated to the homeless of Cleveland on September 12, 2009.
In our 8th annual “Blessed Bloomers” distribution, every package contained one undershirt, two pair of underwear, and (for the first time ever) two pair of socks in honor of a friend we met on the breadline last year.
Results: Your donations provided homeless and poor men, women and children with 1,982 underwear, 1,308 undershirts and 1,399 pair of socks in this year's annual collection. Bundles of "Blessed Bloomers" were distributed to children attending the Homes for the Homeless Summer Camp in NY, to men and women at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, PA, on the Breadline at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York, NY and to those being served by CREATE in Harlem, NY. The remaining Blessed Bloomers" were distributed to the homeless and poor in Lancaster, PA.Back to top
Results: In this project our generous donors from across the United States allowed us to bring more than 3,000 items to St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia including jeans, socks, diapers, sugar toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shavers and soap. Empty bins were filled and shelves were stocked thanks to your donations!
Background: Each year, Mychal’s Message founder Shannon Hickey chooses a special project to mark the anniversary of her life-saving liver transplant. In 2009, moved by a recent visit to Philadelphia, Shannon chose to go “Back to the Inn” in a project to provide needed items to Saint Francis Inn.
In December 2008, Shannon was making her annual check-up visit to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After she left the hospital, she and her family made a stop at Saint Francis Inn to deliver Mychal’s Message donations to this soup kitchen located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
Shannon was overcome with emotion. Having just left Children’s Hospital with a clean bill of health and grateful for her life, she witnessed poverty and the suffering of others in her midst. As she walked silently into Saint Francis Inn that afternoon, she recognized empty bins of deodorant, shavers, powder, toothpaste and toothbrushes. “What can I do to change this?” she wondered. And she knew right away.
To learn more about St. Francis Inn, visit their website.
Results: Your donations amounted to $1,340 for the Dalit Children in India.
Background: In villages all across India, groups of children known as “untouchables” or “Dalits,” wander the streets in search of something to eat. They are the outcaste in a caste system that deems them impure tainted merely by their birth. They are deprived of education and other basic needs of a normal human life simply due to their poor social, psychological and economic background. The children are destined for a life of poverty and despair.
A Pennsylvania parish priest was born an “untouchable” in India and was helped by Catholic priests as a young man. He has since dedicated himself to helping other “untouchable” children rise out of poverty and discrimination. The Star Light Charitable Trust in India was created to teach these Dalit children to read and write and to bring small libraries into their villages so that they could develop and widen their knowledge of the world. This Trust, with a primary goal of educating these children, also provides audio aids to blind children and counseling sessions for children in the village schools. Some of these “untouchable” Dalit children are currently in formation to become priests and nuns.
One American dollar will help provide basic needs for these “untouchable” Dalit children. Ten American dollars will provide food for one child for one month. And twenty American dollars will provide food and education for one child for one month. During this season of Lent, won’t you help us provide “Dollars for Dalits” as we bring Mychal’s Message to “untouchable” children on the other side of the world? Mychal’s Prayer is currently being translated for these children.
A Coat of Honor
Results: Thanks to the generosity of donors from across the United States, in this year's collection, 526 coats and 250 hats and gloves made their way to homeless men, women and children in NY, NJ and PA. Coats were delivered to Lancaster, PA (The Vineyard, Catholic Worker House, The Bridge House, Lancaster County Council of Churches); Patterson, NJ (The Father English Center and Eva's Kitchen); the NJ Food Bank (Kids Closet); New York, NY (The Bowery Mission); Harrisburg, PA (Interfaith Shelter); and Philadelphia, PA (Saint Francis Inn). To read more details of this project and founder Shannon Hickey's recent visit to the White House, read the January 21, 2009 issue of the Holy Name Province newsletter. Below is a photo of a woman we met during this project who is a little warmer this winter.
Results: Over 100 filled Christmas stockings were given to men, women and children in Lancaster, PA (The Vineyard and Crispus Attucks Shelter) and Philadelphia, PA (Saint Francis Inn). Stockings were filled to the top with shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, socks, hair brushes, manicure kits, candy, and toys for the children.
Below is a photo of founders, Kelly Ann Lynch and Shannon Hickey with Father Michael Duffy, OFM of St. Francis Inn, and Karen Pointer (right), in whose honor our "Living With Hope" project was named. This photo was taken the day of the stocking delivery to St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia.
Results: In this year's collection, over 4,000 items were collected and distributed to homeless and poor men, women and children. A total of 1,839 underwear, 1,161 undershirts and 1,178 pair of socks were given away in NY, NJ and PA. To see pictures from the Breadline distribution in Manhattan on September 11, 2008, click here. "Blessed Bloomers" were also given to those who rely on the services provided by the Greymoor Friars, Garrison, NY; CREATE, Inc., Harlem, NY; Eva's Kitchen, Patterson, NJ; Lancaster Council of Churches, Lancaster, PA; and St. Francis Inn, Philadelphia, PA.
Results: Nearly $12,000 was raised by Mychal’s Message to fund the project, with donations from its supporters as well as from churches from all over the Diocese of Harrisburg and students at Lancaster Catholic High School. Arnold Worldwide Agency, Wayne, Pa donated over $1,000 in prizes that were raffled off to students at Lancaster Catholic High School who helped raise funds for the project. Additional funds raised were used to provide a day for 100 kindergartners from one of Lancaster's poorest city schools to visit the Hands On House, Lancaster, Pa. Those children all received a goody bag filled with Play-Doh, bubbles and a Tootsie Roll Pop. Nearly 400 children benefited from the Yes, Mr. Rogers! project thanks to the generosity of Mychal's Message supporters, parishioners at churches across the Diocese of Harrisburg, and students at Lancaster Catholic High School. Read more and see pictures from the day here.
Results: With the help of students from St. Leo the Great Catholic elementary school, Christopher Lynch raised $600, enough money needed to purchase all 300 lions. The lions were distributed on March 27, 2008 to children who attended the Dutch Apple performance of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. This was Christopher's first official project with Mychal's Message. He tallied each class' lion purchases, and in the end, it was his 4th grade class that raised the most money! Read more and see pictures from the day here.
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Message logo and all graphic design graciously donated by
M. Scott Oatman
Graphic Design and Illustration.
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Mychal's Message, Inc. is registered as a charitable organization with the Department of State's Bureau of Charitable Organizations under the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act, 10 P.S. Section 16.2 et seq., and is authorized to solicit charitable contributions under the conditions and limitations set forth under the Act. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of State, Bureau of Charitable Organizations