The congregation at St. Casimir Church in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood tend to make sure their neighbors are taken care of. And church volunteer John Niedzialek, owner of Casimir the cat who predicts the weatherand neighborhood watchdog and organizer— now leads the way by ensuring that students and their families nearby Willson School on Ansel Road will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with a full stomach.
St. Casimir’s Church Hams for FamiliesFor the second year, Niedzialek and other church and community volunteers are raising funds to buy hams to distribute next week at school. “Our congregation is very small, says Niedzialek, but you do what you can do.
Niedzialek says he’s aware there are a lot of families in need in Willson, so last year he came up with the idea of giving out hams and started a fundraising campaign. It was such a success that the congregation decided to do it again for Easter this year and now does it for the winter holidays.
“Last year was the first year we did it, so of course we want to make it bigger this year,” he says. “We distributed about 25 hams for Christmas and also 25 for Easter last year. They all go to Willson School, because it’s right next to the church, and we have a relationship with them.
Niedzialek says teachers help choose families who can benefit the most and distribute the hams accordingly on the last day of school before the holidays, next Tuesday, November 22 for Thanksgiving and Friday, December 16 for winter break. .
Niedzialek says he is simply running a grassroots fundraising campaign, asking church members and the community for donations. He then searches for the best prices for the hams and buys them from the most expensive store.
“I get the funds by emailing and texting the congregation and friends,” he explains. “Everything I get I halve it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then I go out and try to find some good hams. I found some good ones last year at Aldi, but they usually have a limit, so I go to several stores over several days to get my money’s worth.
This year, he says he is now researching how he could also provide families with a vegetable. “I am trying to find a vegetable seller in a market to get a good price for yams this year so that we can have hams and yams for families,” he jokes.
Niedzialek is still collecting donations for this year’s campaign. Anyone wishing to donate can email Niedzialek or text him at (440) 749-7415.