By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent
It’s never too early to spread Christmas cheer, especially when it’s to someone who might not have much time left. That was the spirit behind the St. Rose of Lima Parish youth ministry’s Nov. 12 service project.
The Freehold teens designed handmade Christmas cards for Jacob Thompson, 9, who is battling Stage IV, high-risk neuroblastoma in a Maine hospital. Doctors told his family he might only have a month left to live – so the family is celebrating Christmas early. The youngster’s last wish is to receive Christmas cards from around the world.
“Our teens were so excited to join in this last celebration of his life,” said youth coordinator Charlene McGuckin, who read about Jacob’s story in a news article. “It was a perfect way to start Advent early. … We’ve been talking about different service projects we could do to participate more in the Church, and they really jumped on the idea.”
About 12 teens from the youth ministry designed cards filled with words of encouragement for the boy who loves all things Christmas. The hospital has already decked out Jacob’s room as a “winter wonderland” and coordinated an early visit from Santa.
“They wrote such heartfelt letters telling him, ‘Jesus loves you,’ how much of an inspiration he was to them and that we were praying for him during his journey,” McGuckin said. “The kids really put a lot of time into the cards. Many of them have siblings of similar age. Jacob also loves penguins, so the kids all chipped in to get him a big stuffed penguin we’re sending along with the letters.”
The inspiration for the project was definitely inspired by God, she noted. “It was a beautiful way to start Christmas.”
UPDATE: Days after this publication, Jacob Thompson passed away at Maine Medical Center in Portland. His family thanked those who had sent Christmas cards and prayers.