Christ House in Alexandria is a Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington program that was founded in 1973. Christ House provides food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, and clothing to those in need. Christ House helps individuals recognize their abilities, develop self-sufficiency, and maintain their self-respect. It offers limited assistance to individuals needing help to pay their rent, utility bills, prescription bills, and other expenses.

If you have shopped for school or office supplies recently, you know how quickly the costs add up. For struggling families, these are magnified in light of their minimal budget. And their children’s success at school depends on having the necessary supplies.

So what do they do? They turn to Catholic Charities.

In August, 65 kids received backpacks filled with pens and pencils, notebooks and loose-leaf paper, binders, rulers and many other items usually found on schools’ supply lists.

Sr. Aniliza leads a prayer service with families at Christ House.

Sr. Aniliza leads a prayer service with families at Christ House.

“Make us your living voice. Christ, be our light!” Sr. Aniliza Pacheco Juan sang along with 65 children and their parents during the prayer service before supplies were given out. All of the families who received backpacks full of school supplies (including a rosary and prayer cards) have come to Christ House for emergency assistance, including food and clothes.

Christ House’s mission is to provide professional, empowering and compassionate support services to minister to the whole person –even the whole family. Ruth Guillen, the case manager at Christ House, has listened and built relationships with each and every one of these families. She knew that they would also benefit from donated school supplies because she knows the needs of the family. Some families were so desperate that they come up from Fredericksburg, Virginia to receive aid.

Volunteers, who already give their time and resources to Christ House, banded together to send each child off to school with their own personalized backpack. One boy exclaimed over his “cool camo” backpack, while a little girl lit up with joy upon seeing the princess pink one she had been given.

Sr. Aniliza encouraged the children to thank and pray for their parents. It was because of their parents’ love and care for them that they came to Christ House to ensure that their children have what they need to flourish during this next school year.

Art Bennett, CEO & President of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, hands out backpacks.

Art Bennett, CEO & President of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, hands out backpacks.

One parent of three kids, Sarah (name changed), expressed that she was “truly blessed by the generosity and compassion” she is shown by Catholic Charities, saying, “It is always a real blessing to come here.”

Sarah, her 3 kids, Ruth Guillen and Sr. Aniliza at Christ House.

Sarah, her 3 kids, Ruth Guillen and Sr. Aniliza at Christ House.

Sherri Longhill, Program Director for Emergency Assistance, concluded, “It’s about sending them into the new school year with a positive start.” A positive start filled with prayer and dignity.


Our gratitude to the staff at Christ House who have built relationships with these families – Sherri Longhill, Ruth Guillen, and Sr. Aniliza Pacheco Juan. It could not have been done without the time, resources and loving care put into each individualized backpack by our Christ House Volunteers. Special thanks to Debbie, Jeanne, Elena, and Mike for being there to give them away.

If you would like to get involved with Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington, please consider becoming a volunteer or making a financial gift. We are grateful for the thousands of generous supporters who make our work possible.



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