Marybeth Baucco

The National Christ Child Society and its 43 chapters serve children in 19 states across the USA.  Our nearly 6,000 members volunteer in a wide variety of ways to meet local needs, often partnering with other organizations and always supported by friends.  Our founder Mary Virginia Merrick’s mantra inspires us today:   “Nothing is ever too much to do for a child.”  This blog is my attempt to connect both members and friends with who we are, the work we are doing, and what we strive to do in the future. And you might occasionally find a quote, a story, a recipe or a prayer here as well.  Please subscribe on the right side of this page to join the conversation!

Marybeth Baucco, President
National Christ Child Society

Merry Christmas to all!

“Nothing is ever too much to do for a child.” Mary Virginia Merrick

The years have passed and my children have grown and now I get to relive so many happy memories of their own childhoods through my grandchildren! This past Saturday, December 17th, was my granddaughter Stella’s first birthday. It is tradition that my husband and I host our grandchildren’s first birthday parties. And as I was helping my daughter plan and prepare for the day, Mary Virginia Merrick’s words kept coming to my mind, “Nothing is ever too much to do for a child”. I realized that my daughter and I would do anything for this child because of our deep love for her.

                         STELLA IS 1!

A love very similar to this is what we all feel when we devote our free time to the various projects and fundraisers that benefit the children we all serve in our communities. Mary Virginia Merrick’s example of selfless devotion to children continues to inspire us today to do the same.







I hope each of your have a joyful, peaceful and beautiful Christmas filled with many special blessings which you are all so deserving of!

Thank you for all you do in the name of the Christ Child…

Until the New Year,

Marybeth Baucco
NCCS President

“Let not a day pass without having learned something, without having overcome yourself in something, without having performed a kind act, without having accomplished something.”                                                                                                                                 Mary Virginia Merrick 

As members of the Christ Child Society, we are sometimes called upon to move out of our comfort zone to get something accomplished for our cause. Maybe it is seeking donations for an Annual Appeal or chairing an event or speaking to the media to get our story told. Whatever it is, we do it because we believe in what we do for the children who need us most.

Standing left to right: Kati Hughes, University of Toledo Doctoral candidate, HUGS program; Terri Mohler, Co-Chair Community Outreach; Jenny Trojan, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Meg Sears, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Jane Larsen, President CCS of Toledo and Karen Smith, Corresponding Secretary CCS of Toledo. Seated Molly Fanning, President CCS of Columbus and Director at Large on the National Board and myself!

Standing left to right: Kati Hughes, University of Toledo Doctoral candidate, HUGS program; Terri Mohler, Co-Chair Community Outreach; Jenny Trojan, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Meg Sears, Celebrity Wait Night Co-Chair; Jane Larsen, President CCS of Toledo and Karen Smith, Corresponding Secretary CCS of Toledo. Seated Molly Fanning, President CCS of Columbus and Director at Large on the National Board and myself!

In November, I traveled to the Toledo, Ohio chapter to attend their 22nd Annual Celebrity Wait Night event.  I presented a seminar in 2013 that featured this event, and I have wanted to experience this fundraiser in person ever since!  Due to the great turnout of 550 attendees, it was held in two restaurants, Real Seafood and Zia’s- beautiful locations in Toledo. Along with the “real” waiters, each table is assigned a ‘Celebrity Waiter” whose job it is to entertain the guests, make sure everyone is having fun and of course, seek donations for their effort!  I was lucky to get Jane Larsen, the President of the Toledo chapter, as my celebrity waiter!! The evening included a delicious, relaxing dinner and a chance to meet many of the Toledo chapter members. This event raised nearly $41,000 for Toledo’s outreach programs. What a great success!


CCS of Akron 47th Annual Christmas Boutique and Luncheon Program

My fundraising travels continued in November when I attended Christ Child Society of Akron’s 47th Annual Boutique and Luncheon. It’s winter theme with decorations and a fabulous Christmas boutique certainly got us all in the mood for some Christmas shopping! There was also a delicious luncheon, style show with both celebrity and member models, and raffle prizes including a hand-made quilt. And those Akron members certainly know how to bake too! It was really difficult to choose what to bring home with me! President, Peg Klamert, announced that in 2017, Akron’s Christmas Boutique and luncheon will become known as Akron’s Red Wagon luncheon, following the lead of so many other Christ Child chapters.


Akron project’s posters displayed at entrance to luncheon




Their special guests, who I had a chance to sit with at lunch, included Betsy Kling and Sara Shookman, both from WKYC, Channel 3 news. Betsy is a meteorologist who also has quite the sense of humor. During her opening remarks, she said to the group how happy she was to be with them and that she looked forward to seeing them at the Starlight Ball…well, when she said that, a hush came over the room, because The Starlight Ball is a Cleveland Chapter annual event, and some of the guests probably never heard of it. Since my table was right in front of the podium, I whispered to Betsy, “That is a Cleveland chapter event” and she proceeded to say, “Helloooo ladies…you do know that there is now a freeway that connects Akron and Cleveland, don’t you?? So, there is no reason you can’t go to their ball!!” Needless, to say the room erupted in laughter!

And it was again my pleasure to see Betsy Kling at Cleveland’s 65th Annual Starlight Ball on Saturday, December 3rd, at the new downtown Cleveland Hilton hotel where she was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies! 467 guests attended, to honor our Person of the Year, Bishop Roger Gries, and to celebrate the Cleveland Chapter’s 100th Anniversary! Cleveland’s largest fundraiser was a magical evening…the beautiful gowns, tuxedoed men, glittery centerpieces, and exciting auction items. Opening remarks were followed by a new video that the Cleveland Chapter put together under the leadership of past-president, Susan Ferraro Smith. The video featured our history and the daily impact we are having through our various outreach programs.


“A Gift from the Heart” to help us, help them

After the video, Susan and Betsy appealed to the captivated crowd to “Make a Gift from the Heart” to Help Us Help Them. It was so beautifully done!

The evening continued well into the night with a delicious dinner followed by hours of dancing!! It was an evening you did not want to end! So, Akron ladies and all the other chapters as well, YOU are invited to next year’s event which will be held the first Saturday in December 2017. We would love to see you there-and so would Betsy Kling!

In the Name of the Christ Child,

Marybeth Baucco

Cleveland Christ Child members Kathleen McHale, Marybeth Baucco, Donna Gigliotti and Patty Welsh, spouses and friends taking advantage of the photo booth at the Starlight Ball.

Cleveland Christ Child members Kathleen McHale, Marybeth Baucco, Donna Gigliotti and Patty Welsh, spouses and friends taking advantage of the photo booth at the Starlight Ball.


Person of the Year Bishop Roger Gries with Cleveland Christ Child members, Stephanie West and Mary Herrick.

Person of the Year Bishop Roger Gries with Cleveland Christ Child members, Stephanie West and Mary Herrick.







The beautifully decorated ballroom at the Cleveland Hilton Downtown

The beautifully decorated ballroom at the Cleveland Hilton Downtown 

Give Thanks…

“I must not rush though my daily duties worrying that I cannot get all that I wish done. I must do but one thing at a time and by that one duty do my best not worrying over what will become of the others…” 


2016-2018 Board members pictured with Fr. Ralph Wiatrowski left to right: Anne Kelley, Loretta Haugh, Melanie Mbuyi, Kaye Rowe, Beth Barrett, Marybeth Baucco, Jean Phelan, Linda Henry, Molly Fanning, Mary Jo Dawson, Lambi Newsham and Carol Pickle.

This quote by Mary Virginia Merrick marked the start of the first board meeting of the newly inducted National Board of Directors on Saturday, November 5th. I chose this quote to emphasize to the new board that although we have our work cut out for us, we will all work together, seeking guidance where needed, to begin to implement our new Strategic Plan.  The Christ Child members who answered the call to serve on the National Board are a talented, resourceful, and hard-working group (not to mention, a lot of fun too!) I would like to share a little about them with you today.

Carol Pickle: Carol is our President-Elect and is from Pasadena, California, where she was a Past President of the Pasadena chapter. She also co-chaired their Auction & Treasure sale twice, and served as Provisional co-chair and Treasurer of her chapter. Carol always thought that volunteering should be both fulfilling and fun and so far, Christ Child Society has been just that for her!

Kaye Rowe: Kaye is starting her third term with two as our Treasurer and is from Akron, Ohio. She has been a member of the Akron chapter for 17 years and served on their Executive Board for 14 of them! She is currently the President-Elect for the Akron chapter. The financial expertise Kaye brings to our board is invaluable.

Linda Henry: Linda is our Recording Secretary from the Northern Michigan chapter where she is currently finishing her term as their President. She also served in the past as chair of their Thanksgiving project, Christmas Shopping project and Layette project.  Linda had a nursing career that spanned 30 years with 20 of those years serving as an Oklahoma Air National Guard Flight nurse, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. When she was introduced to the caring women of the Christ Child Society, she knew where she wanted to spend the next 30 years!

Beth Barrett: Beth is starting her second term on the National Board and is serving as one of the Vice Presidents. She is a Past President of the South Bend chapter and also chaired many fundraising events there. Her interest in cultural awareness and literacy/educational program development are the result of her varied careers: secondary education and reading specialist, sign language interpreter and Grants Director for her US Congressman and Senator.

Mary Jo Dawson: Mary Jo is also starting her second term on the National Board and is also a Vice President. She has been a member of the Detroit Chapter since 1973.  Her work history includes Alumnae Director, PR and Marketing Manager and Major Gifts Coordinator at the Academy of the Sacred Heart and she also served as Director of College Counseling and Associate College Counselor. Mary Jo’s expertise is being put to good use as she leads our Planning Giving program!


  Your National Board hard at work!

Lambi Newsham: Lambi is the founder and former President of the Summit, New Jersey chapter where she served as President for four years. She started on the National Board in 2014 as a Director at Large and returns this term as a Vice President.  Having raised three healthy children, Lambi is committed to helping babies and children in her community obtain the basic needs to grow and thrive.  She is doing a great job planning and organizing Conference and Convention for us! She also is a Project Manager at Citibank in the Global Event Marketing group.

Jean Phelan: Jean is a new Vice President on the NCCS Board. She is also a Past Co-President of the Milwaukee chapter. Jean agreed to serve on the National Board because she felt that because she came from a large, successful chapter, she could share their successes and get help for their challenges!

Melanie Mbuyi: Melanie grew up in upstate New York and now lives outside of Washington, D.C. in Arlington, Virginia. She has one daughter and three grandchildren. She has been a member of the Washington D.C. chapter for over 15 years including serving as their Chapter President. Melanie has been on the National Board since 2014 as Director at Large and co-chair of the Membership Committee.

Molly Fanning: Molly is currently the outgoing President of the Columbus chapter and is a Director at Large for National, chairing the Education committee. She is a wife of 35 years and mother of four who loves to read, travel, and root for OSU Buckeyes and Columbus Blue Jackets. She admired the work of the past National Boards and felt humbled when asked to join-and we are happy to have her!

Loretta Haugh: Loretta currently works as the Membership Director in the Sarasota Chapter and also holds a supporting membership in the Akron chapter. She was honored to be asked to serve as a Director at Large, working to further the mission of serving children at risk. Loretta is excited to further expand her knowledge as she serves on the National Board!



Marybeth Baucco and Anne Kelley at Board welcome dinner 







Dinner for new Board members at Maureen Wesley’s home. Pictured: Carolyn Pumphrey, Maureen Wesley, her daughter, Kathleen Vamos and grandson Wesley James. 


Anne Kelley: Anne is currently our Immediate Past President who serves as our Communications chair and is on the Canonization Advisory Board.  She has been on the National Board since 2008.  Along with these responsibilities she has formed a chapter in Monterey Bay, California!! She is one busy lady, and we are so lucky to have her!

I call Willoughby Hills, Ohio, home and have been a member of the Cleveland chapter for almost 18 years holding various board positions including Chapter President. I was privileged to be on Maureen Wesley’s Board as a VP in charge of Conference and Convention and then on Anne Kelley’s Board as the President-Elect.  Maureen continues to help National in so many ways especially with our National newsletter and Canonization.  Working with both of these ladies has been a rewarding, enjoyable learning experience-one that will definitely help guide me as National President!

I am so thankful for all of the National board members and for all of our hard-working chapters, especially at this time of year when we take time to count our blessings.


Let every beautiful sight and sound uplift you nearer to Him in gratitude.” MVM

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marybeth Baucco

Mary Virginia Merrick-Still hard at work after 150 years!

Mary Virginia Merrick, Servant of God, established the Christ Child Society almost 130 years ago, when she inspired her friends and family members in Washington to join her in personal service to children in need. And she continues to inspire our organization today as do her visionary statements, which come off our lips as we seek to meet the needs of today’s children: “Nothing is ever too much to do for a child,” “Find a need and fill it,” and “To work is to pray”. 


Booties made by hand in the Pasadena, CA chapter at Make a Difference Day

Which is why this year the National Christ Child Society and 30 of our chapters participated in our first ever national day of volunteering for National Make a Difference Day on or about, October 22, 2016, in honor of Miss Mary’s 150th birthday.  Our theme was Layettes of Love since the packing of layettes goes back to our origin when Mary Virginia Merrick and her friends made and distributed the first layettes for babies born at Christmas time.


Girls scouts at Texas Make A Difference Day looming hats


Our chapters made a difference in so many ways! Texas Capital had local girl scout troops helping them loom baby hats while Albany had help from a couple of Brownie groups and Northern Michigan from a 4H club! Akron held a “Trunk or Treat” event in which they collected donations of teethers, bottles, books and cash to fund their layette program.





Students from Mary Virginia Merrick’s parish promote diaper drive under her portrait


Washington D.C. held diaper drives and MVM’s very own parish, Blessed Sacrament, participated in the drive!  Quad Cities collected 50 homemade blankets. Oshkosh spent the day making their own layette items while the Denver chapter made baby blankets.

The Columbus chapter actually taught their members and guests how to knit which will definitely benefit the chapter in the future!

Learning to knit at Make A Difference Day in Columbus

Learning to knit at Make A Difference Day in Columbus






And I was able to join my very own Cleveland chapter as we packed layettes and collected books to include in our future layettes.  The Boca Raton chapter who had members and volunteers ranging from five to ninety years old summed it up when they said “Any age can make a difference!”  See more chapters in action on Facebook:

Packing layettes in Cleveland

Packing layettes in Cleveland

All of these events were inspired by Mary Virginia Merrick whose Cause for Canonization as a saint in the Catholic Church continues to progress. I would encourage everyone who reads this post both to take a moment and pray the Canonization prayer in honor of her birthday today, November 2, and to forward this post to other Christ Child members, friends, relatives and religious and ask that they say the prayer today as well:



“The personal element brings true charity into life.  The giver and the gift are brought together, and the link is the Christ Child.”

Happy Birthday Miss Mary!! 



Boca Raton’s Birthday Cake for Mary Virginia Merrick


Passing the Roses: A New Beginning


The “Gavel”

The gavel was passed-or rather the roses! And as you can see they made the journey home from Atlanta, Georgia to Cleveland, Ohio, and managed to look beautiful for an additional week!

It is my privilege to take over the writing of the blog from Anne Kelley, our Immediate Past President. I must reiterate some of Anne’s comments from her last blog. Our convention in Atlanta was truly wonderful! Thank you to the Atlanta chapter for helping the convention run so smoothly and for taking us to visit Elizabeth’s Garden. It was so special to see it in person! And thank you to all the chapter members who attended and who have sent us feedback to make our next conference and convention even more valuable to the chapters.


Molly Fanning of Columbus, Marybeth Baucco of Cleveland and Kaye Rowe of Akron at the Thirsty Dog Brewing Company Cheers for a Child event.

One of my presentations during the convention was on fund-raising and I couldn’t miss going to Akron’s Cheers for a Child after I had learned so much about it. Held on the Tuesday after convention at a local brewery, Thirsty Dog, it featured a raffle of five items including a flat screen TV, a 50/50 raffle, delicious food, and a chance to mingle with many Akron chapter members as well as 300 other attendees! And to my surprise, I ran into Molly Fanning, new National Board member and President of the Columbus chapter who came to check out this fundraiser as a possibility for the Columbus chapter.




Kathleen Curtin, Executive Director for the Washington chapter, Katherine Warren, Marybeth Baucco, Melanie Mbuyi, and event co-chairs, Marianna O’Brien Barlow and Kate Burke at Washington’s Red Wagon Luncheon.

Kathleen Curtin, Executive Director for the Washington chapter, Katherine Warren, Marybeth Baucco, Melanie Mbuyi, and event co-chairs, Marianna O’Brien Barlow and Kate Burke at Washington’s Red Wagon Luncheon.


Mid-October saw me heading to Bethesda to spend four days with Carolyn and Mary at the National office. Together we accomplished much in planning for the next board to begin their work. It was also very inspiring to me to see once again all the MVM memorabilia in the office as well as writings in her own hand. I was lucky enough to be in town to attend the Washington Chapter’s Red Wagon luncheon.  Patricia McGuire, the president of Washington Trinity University since 1989 was the featured speaker and among the 180 guests, were a table of girls from their Girls on the Rise program. The Girls on the Rise Program is a multifaceted empowerment program for girls age 8-18 and their families. It operates out of the Mary Virginia Merrick Center in Southeast, D.C. and the program provides a safe, enriching after-school program for the girls. The girls told us that they were looking forward to being part of National Make a Difference Day on October 22nd!!

And speaking of Red Wagons, the Columbus chapter held theirs on Wednesday, October 19th.  It was a beautiful but warm fall day for the ride to Columbus and it was worth it to see the many dedicated Columbus Christ Child ladies as they celebrated 35 years! The luncheon was very well attended with over 450 attendees including members from the various Ohio Christ Child chapters who came to support Columbus!  Everyone enjoyed bidding on the great Silent

"Christian Bling" specially commissioned red wagon bracelet.

“Christian Bling” specially-commissioned red wagon bracelet.

Auction items and shopping at the various vendors. The Columbus chapter even had one vendor, Christian Bling, design a special bracelet for them with a red wagon charm which they had for sale! 

It was a wonderful afternoon made even more special when a good friend of mine who lives in Columbus and came with me to the luncheon, told me she is ready to become a Christ Child member!!


Members from the Akron, Cleveland, and Toledo chapters with Columbus chapter president, Molly  Fanning.

And that is what it is all about-friend-raising-to help our chapters continue to grow and thrive!


Convention 2016 Wrap-Up and Passing the Pen with the Gavel

Well, this post is coming very close on the heels of the last, but yesterday really deserves a post all its own.  We had such an amazing day and evening, culminating with awards and the passing of the gavel to Marybeth Baucco, your new NCCS president, who will be introducing herself to you via this blog in the weeks to come!

The day started with a really interactive session on how to recruit, retain and reward members, led by outgoing NCCS board member Cheryle Mackie from the Stuart Chapter and Melanie Mbuyi, who will continue on the new board.  The session started such great conversations that we could barely get the ladies out of the room so it could be set up for the business meeting.

Our Newest Chapter, The Ladies of the Denver Christ Child Society

Our Newest Chapter, The Ladies of the Denver Christ Child Society

At the business meeting, probably the most exciting thing was the official chartering of our Denver Chapter!  Here’s a picture of the Denver ladies from just two weeks ago at their first ever–and very successful–fundraiser.  They are off and running!

Our luncheon speaker was Susanne Greenwood, principal of St. Peter Claver School, where the Atlanta Chapter operates a reading program and a garden.  A member of the Atlanta Chapter herself as well as a

Susanne Greenwood speaking at lunch about challenging poverty in the Atlanta inner city

Susanne Greenwood speaking at lunch about challenging poverty in the Atlanta inner city

professional educator, she spoke eloquently on how important the Christ Child interventions are at the school and broke our hearts a little with a story about how children routinely inquire of her, “Is my CCS partner coming today?”

Then we boarded buses and actually got a chance to see first hand some of the fabulous work of the Atlanta Chapter, who won the Red Wagon Award four years ago for its multisensory garden program.  We visited Elizabeth’s Garden at the Elaine Clark Center, about which we’d heard a bunch on Friday, and got to see the multisensory garden and how it benefits children who are developmentally challenged.  But, as the Center is in midst of construction, we were greeted with great hospitality by the Atlanta Chapter with themed hardhats and cool drinks, which were much appreciated!


Southern Hospitality at its best, courtesy of the Atlanta Chapter

Southern Hospitality at its best, courtesy of the Atlanta Chapter



Mugging for the camera in our hard hats at Elizabeth’s Garden 

Layettes laid by attending chapters at the foot of the Christ Child at Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King

Layettes laid by attending chapters at the foot of the Christ Child at Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King

After visiting the garden, we piled back on the buses and went to Mass at the beautiful Cathedral of Christ the King, with Archbishop Wilton Gregory presiding.  The Archbishop really called out Christ Child’s work for children in Atlanta and across the country–and gave an amazing sermon on our need to continue to work to be ready to serve our neighbor.  As is traditional each chapter processed up the front isle of the church during the Offertory, placing their layettes at the foot of a stunning (and reminiscent) statue of the Christ Child.  Then, after Mass, the Cleveland Chapter’s Spiritual Director Fr. Ralph Wiatrowski installed Marybeth Baucco, of the Cleveland Chapter, and the entire 2016-18 NCCS Board

The new 2016-18 NCCS Board and Fr. Ralph

The new 2016-18 NCCS Board, with NCCS President Marybeth Baucco to the left of Fr. Ralph


After Mass, we experienced more Southern hospitality, thanks to Kathy Thompson of the Atlanta Chapter who hosted ALL OF US at her stunning home in Buckhead.

Walking up to Kathy Thompson's house at Sunset for a lovely cocktail party

Walking up to Kathy Thompson’s house at Sunset for a lovely cocktail party

Her beautiful home and the lovely food and wine made for certainly the most elegant cocktail I’ve had on Christ Child time.  Thanks so much Kathy!

And then back on the buses again where we celebrated our Red Wagon Award winner Baltimore, for their amazing literacy program, and the 25th anniversaries for Toledo and Boca Raton and 100th anniversary of the Cleveland Chapter–as well as the Boca Raton‘s Membership Growth Award, for growing 70% since the last Convention.

The Red Wagon Award goes to Baltimore this year!

The Red Wagon Award goes to Baltimore this year!

And then I highlighted our staff’s and board’s contributions, especially Cheryle Mackie, Deb Low, Paula Conrad and Maureen Wesley, who are moving off the board this year.  Then I passed the “gavel”  (really some roses)  with joy and excitement to Marybeth, who will be an amazing president AND blogger.  I’ll leave it to Marybeth to tell you a little bit about herself and her new board.  I am signing off as President from this blog with deepest gratitude for your following our important work through this medium.  Stay tuned for really exciting and impactful next chapters!

In the name of the Christ Child,

Anne Kelley, Immediate Past President

2016 NCCS Convention Days 1 and 2

Convention went so fast it was hard to collect the pictures and info between sessions, so I have divided my update into two posts!  Here’s what I wrote Saturday morning–and am sending now:

What whirlwind we’re in the midst of with half of Convention in the rearview mirror.  Here are just a few notes from Days 1 and 2:

NCCS Board Member Mary Jo Dawson presenting to the Gavel Club

NCCS Board Member Mary Jo Dawson presenting to the Gavel Club


Linda Toth, Carolyn Mergel, Marlene Genovese, Mary Graves, Maureen Wesley, Roseann Anderson — and me!






First the Board met with the Gavel Club members attending Convention to brief them on the business of the society, as they are the Society’s most experienced and trusted advisors.  I was SO excited to get in my first picture with them, even with 2 days left of being President.

Then the educational seminars on Cultural Competency and Fundraising here held, followed by a welcome cocktail hour and dinner.

Votives ready for commitment ceremony

Votives ready for commitment ceremony

We capped off the evening with a Commitment Ceremony written by Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, NCCS spiritual advisor and former USCCB Secretary General.  Each participant in Convention took a lighted votive with the NCCS logo and joined together in prayer, as beautifully prepared by Monsignor Jenkins. What a great start!



Julie Francavilla at Keynote on “Sharing Our Impact”


Then Communications Day” sailed past, with a great keynote on Sharing Our Impact by July Francavilla, with contributions from various NCCS Board and chapter presenters.  Julie charged us to “Be Bold” in sharing Christ Child’s impact–and really showed us how !  After the keynote, we heard about the impact the Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. chapters are making with their hands-on programs.

In the afternoon, during a presentation on our first ever National Day of volunteering, we heard a great video presentation on how to do loom knitting by Texas Capital Board Member Beth Watkins, as set up by her mother and Texas Capital President Elect Joan Watkins.  And everyone in the room was trying it out, even Fr. Ralph!  Check it out:


Looming Tutorial by Beth and Joan Watkins

Looming Tutorial by Beth and Joan Watkins

Dry Run of National Day! Looming Baby Caps Across the Nation in One Room!

Dry Run of National Day! Looming Baby Caps Across the Nation in One Room!







Fr. Ralph, Cleveland's Spiritual Director, joins in the fun

Fr. Ralph, Cleveland’s Spiritual Director, joins in the fun

Ellen Ross of Boca Raton displays loomed hat she made at Convention

Ellen Ross of Boca Raton displays loomed hat she made at Convention










The last session of the day was a workshop in which we worked on messaging using the Brand Values Matrix, and then started posting real-time from our smartphones onto the new National Christ Child Society Facebook Account.  If you really want to know what went on at Convention, get engaged on Facebook with the National Christ Child Society page!

Half a Year in Half a Page


St. Teresa of Calcutta’s Canonization Day in Lumieres, France, September 4, 2016

Blogging fool I have not been of late, but fool for Christ Child I remain.  In my last few days as NCCS President I would like to reflect here on my travels since spring, my spiritual inspiration coming from vacation, and set the stage for some every day posts with updates from the NCCS Convention, to begin in Atlanta this Thursday.

First, every trip to a chapter is worth “chapter and verse”, but here I’ll just lightly touch on the magic!

Boca Raton:  A nice welcome to Florida and dinner with leadership–and Agnes Gregory encouraging us to connect with Make a Difference Day for our first ever National Day!  We met at a restaurant and I was tired from my flight from the west coast, but was rejuvenated in their company!  Maybe it was the great idea!

Anne Kroha with Maureen Wesley and Me at Northern Michigan Bash

Anne Kroha with Maureen Wesley and Me at Northern Michigan Bash

Palm Beach:  Late night arrival at Anne and John Kroha’s, where I learned about John’s mother’s amazing role in Christ Child in Detroit and heard Anne’s experience as the unsuspecting wife of “son of Christ Child”.  She went on to be NCCS president and remains a force in the Palm Beach chapter with whom I had the pleasure of meeting over a cup of coffee, meeting the team that had gone forward with one of the first newly branded brochures in preparation for an upcoming membership drive.

Naples Co-Presidents and NCCS Board Members

Naples Co-Presidents and NCCS Board Members

Naples:  I drove as quickly as I could to Naples (across the entire width of Florida sort of the wrong way, which is rather far), where I met with new friends from the Naples Chapter and with Mary Jo Dawson, NCCS Board member and member of the Detroit chapter.  I gave a little presentation at their meeting and learned about their very significant abilities to communicate, raise funds and engage their volunteers in literacy programs.  Then was treated to a lovely dinner and even though I was only there briefly got a sense of the immense charms of the locale–and CCSers.

After Speech to El Paso Chapter with Unnecessary Darling Spring Gift Bag

After Speech to El Paso Chapter with Unnecessary Darling Spring Gift Bag


El Paso:  Phenomenal luncheon and spirit, where I was lucky to present.  A chapter that knows how to make things happen in a very special community on the border with Mexico.  Best memory:  Molly Reed, then president, driving me out to see the famous poppies on the hillside that hadn’t made themselves known (in direct contravention of reports she’d heard).  We should have just gone and had a margarita she said–and I didn’t say I agreed, but I kind of did since margaritas were apparently invented in El Paso.  I’m just sayin’ . . . .

Northern Michigan:  Nothing like Harbor Springs in the summer, and these gals know how to raise money!  A lovely opportunity to attend this “summer chapter”

With Maureen Wesley and Northern Michigan Chapter Leaders at Christ Child House

With Maureen Wesley and Northern Michigan Chapter Leaders at Christ Child House



fundraiser and see everyone just loving being “on vacation” and supporting the local community because of the great work and great event the Northern Michigan Chapter puts on.  Got a tour of their very special Christ Child House and a sense of how they interact there.  Great ladies and great fun.


Poster Welcoming Guest’s to New Denver Chapter’s First–and Very Successful–Fundraiser

Denver:  This new chapter is now officially on fire.  What a privilege to watch the (gorgeous) mansion burn down.  Not literally but with great attendance, great response to fundraising, and superb dancing and cocktails (the “Christ Child Cosmo”, if you can believe it!).  Lovely to see 10 women multiply their forces and finances in a single night, after LOTS of hard work. . . And they raised $11K or more, lean and mean.  Loved the beer and wine cake walk–kind of hard to explain but fun . . . .

Monterey Bay:  OK, I’m going from President of NCCS to soon serving as President of a brand new chapter.  We are in formation, planning our Make a Difference Day coming out party, honing the bylaws and navigating our non-profit status.  We have children to serve and a fantastic group of founding members.  This summer we’ve done some real work to explore how we “find a need and fill it”.  If I said we were “stoked” would you think we were stoned and not get that we’re 50-somethings from Northern California where stoked just means “excited” ? 🙂

Our Newest Chapter, The Ladies of the Denver Christ Child Society

Our Newest Chapter, The Ladies of the Denver Christ Child Society

Not a chapter, but my happy place, Goult, Provence, in the Petit Luberon:  A week to take stock and rest up for the Convention and next chapter.  Very hot! But Mass two Sundays in a row at a very famous shrine where the apparition was actually of the Christ Child.

Crypt Sited Where Apparition of the Christ Child Occurred and Current Site of Church of Notre Dame de Lumieres

Crypt Sited Where Apparition of the Christ Child Occurred and Current Site of Church of Notre Dame de Lumieres

I got to attend the annual Celebration of the patroness, the Mother of the Christ Child, but also a celebration of Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s canonization–even better in a foreign language.  Truly great to be part of the global Church, and getting ready for National Christ Child!

I’m back from all the travels, and here in Atlanta, getting ready for our Convention.   In coming days, you, the faithful–and patient–will be hearing a daily report from Convention, because if you are not here, you’re missing out on a great educational and interpersonal opportunity.  And sometime around Sunday, I will be honored to transition this President’s Blog to our next President–and a great communicator, Mary Beth Baucco, of the Cleveland Chapter.








Deep Diaper Discounts: NCCS Pre-Qualifies Chapters for the New Jet Community Diaper Program

diapersWe all know diapers are a basic health necessity that no baby can do without. Yet federal assistance, which addresses nearly every other essential need, specifically excludes diapers. The sad truth is that 1 in 3 families lack sufficient access to diapers, with many paying as much as 70 cents per diaper at corner convenience stores or travelling multiple hours for multiple dollars to get diapers at slightly lower prices.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey’s Diary Survey, families in poverty may spend 13-14% of their household income on diapers–in vast contrast to higher income families who can easily access cheaper diapers at volume discounts.  As a result of this shortage, children are exposed to health risks and/or diapers crowd out food or other essential purchases for low income families.

To the rescue, the Community Diaper Program, operated by Jet.    Jet logoJet, an e-commerce shopping marketplace, has partnered with Cuties, a diaper manufacturer, to deliver high-quality diapers in the most cost-effective way possible.  Via this new program, the price per diaper will be reduced from as high as $.50 to an average of $.13 per diaper without sacrificing quality.  (Here’s a story on the announcement this March from the Washington Post).

As soon as she heard about the Jet program, NCCS Executive Director Carolyn Pumphrey alerted the board of this new opportunity to reduce the costs of our chapters’ many layette, crib club and other infant support programs.

NCCS Executive Director Carolyn Pumphrey

NCCS Executive Director Carolyn Pumphrey

She then immediately contacted Jet to explain our work across the country and to find out how we could help streamline the application process for our chapters.  Jet has agreed to provide NCCS with promo codes for all 43 chapters so that they can purchase Cuties diapers at the preferred pricing, starting later this month.  Once NCCS obtains the promo codes from Jet, each chapter will be able to work directly with Jet to place orders as needed–with free delivery to locations the chapters specify.

diaper boys

Lynda Rittenhouse engaged in her family diaper sourcing and delivery project for Christ Child of Fort Wayne


Rittenhouse boys in the diaper depot

A chapter already excited about this new opportunity is Fort Wayne, Indiana, which operates multiple crib clubs as well as its layette program.  According to Lynda Rittenhouse, who followed her mother Beverly McArdle as the chapter’s head of diaper purchasing, the Jet Community Diaper program “is a Godsend.”   Lynda has spent the last ten years working with her six sons as a sort of family community service team to source diapers for Christ Child at the lowest possible prices in the area.  Thanks to the new Jet program, Lynda estimates the Fort Wayne chapter will be able to save 3-5 cents per diaper on the 156,000 diapers a year they purchase today–and potentially allow them to purchase more diapers in the future.  For chapters who are currently purchasing diapers at an average price higher than Fort Wayne’s  $ .21 per diaper, the savings may be even more significant!

Hats off to Jet, Cuties and others behind the Community Diaper Program for truly “finding a need and filling it”, as our founder Mary Virginia Merrick would say.  12[1]And not just any need but a need that supports layette programs that are operated by all Christ Child chapters!  Keep an eye out for information coming to chapter presidents this week on how to get your promo code by working with the NCCS office.  And learn more about both the problem and the solution by going to Jet’s Facebook page and watching this video . . . .

Finally, pass this blogpost along to friends of Christ Child and within Christ Child and use the Comment fields to let us know what you think of this new program!