Catholic Charities Program Care Packages

Care packs are a meaningful and flexible volunteer project for groups that want to support Catholic Charities clients and programs. Our programs have developed  wish lists of care packs they hope to give each client that enters their program. These kits provide personal necessity items that can ease the worries of clients going through challenging times of transition. To ensure each client receives one, we are looking for many volunteers to get involved. 

Choose one of the kits below, find a group of interested friends or colleagues, and organize a time to collect supplies and package up the goods. Then reach out to the program contact listed below to organize a drop off. Our clients appreciate your help and support! 

Catholic Charities: St. Jude’s Project Huntington’s Disease Wellness Kits:

Huntington’s disease is a rare, inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Symptoms of the disease, which gets progressively worse, include uncontrolled movements (called chorea) and changes in behavior, emotion, judgment, and cognition. The earliest symptoms are often subtle problems with mood or mental abilities and a general lack of coordination and an unsteady gait often follow. Symptoms usually begin between 30 and 50 years of age but can start at any age. No cure for HD is known, and full-time care is required in the later stages. Treatments can relieve some symptoms, and improve quality of life. To learn more, please visit the Huntington’s Disease Society of America website.

Below are some items that would benefit the client therapeutically and cognitively. May is Huntington’s Awareness Month and we would love to provide our clients with wellness kits in honor.

Sensory Stimulation Tools
Sensory Integration stimulation can improve proprioception (awareness of one’s body position and movement), reduce involuntary movement, improve sleep quality, improve circulation, improve salivation, improve swallowing, and therefore improve a person’s independence in completing activities of daily living (ADL). They can also improve the quality of relaxation and a person’s ability to regulate emotion. This page features affordable items that can be used for sensory stimulation.

Therapy brush – a kind of brush developed specifically for sensory stimulation. It is used by firmly but gently brushing the bristles up and down a person’s limbs on their bare skin. NOT  to be used on the face, face, chest, stomach, or the inside of a person’s thighs.

Porcupine balls – These spikey balls are also sometimes called massage or acupressure balls. The spikes create a pleasant sensation of kneading deep into muscle tissue. Rolling these balls along the body can be calming and relaxing while simultaneously stimulating nerves, improving circulation, and improving proprioception. One way to use this ball is to roll it around a person’s body, avoiding sensitive areas and focusing on specific muscle groups, while instructing the person being massages to focus on the location of the ball on their body.

Soft Foam Stress Balls – These squishy foam balls often come in a variety of different shapes, colors, and characters and give way to pressure easily on the surface and offer more resistance when compressed. Most people consider this feeling to be satisfying and relaxing while also providing low resistance exercising of joint and hand movement.

Grip Strengthening Stress Balls – These stress balls are much firmer and provide a great deal of resistance, requiring a significant amount of effort to squeeze. Playing with these kinds of stress balls can improve hand strength and dexterity. That exercise may help some people to maintain motor skills and grip. Closer to onset of symptoms, this may help maintain a person’s precision movement and control in their hands and fingers.

Essential Oil roll-on sticks – Essential oil roll on sticks are used  for a variety of purposes such as stress reduction, headache relief, and improving mood. A person can buy empty roller sticks and fill them with a person’s own choice of essential oil or oil blends (there are plenty of blend recipes available online to suit specific needs). We recommend plastic roller bottles as opposed to glass for safety purposes and price. Roller sticks stimulate the senses of touch and smell. In addition to providing the benefits that specific oils claim, the sense of smell is highly impactful on memory recall and may help alleviate symptoms of memory loss for some time. It is important to only use hypoallergenic oils as some client might have allergies.

Putty – There are several different kinds and brands available like Crayola’s Silly Putty, Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, and brands marketed specifically as therapy putty. Health benefits of playing with putty including stress reduction, increased hand strength and fine motor skills, better coordination, and flexibility. Playing with putty has even shown to stimulate the brain in ways that improve word and color recognition. There’s even scented putty which can incorporate some of the benefits of aromatherapy. It is also very useful as an anger management tool, which is helpful in the case of clients with HD since emotional regulation is also affected by the disease.

White noise machine – besides the conventional uses of relaxation and helping people fall and stay asleep longer, listening to white noise has shown in clinical trials to reduce agitation in people suffering from dementia. Those studies also found that listening to white noise may also improve daily independent functioning and cognitive abilities.

Weighted blankets  – Utilizing the therapeutic technique of Deep Pressure Stimulation, weighted blankets can provide benefits such as improved mood, sleep, social interactions, focus, distress tolerance, and communicativeness. They can also reduce anxiety, incidence of seizures, and hypersensitivity to touch.

Cognitive Exercise
Activities that require the use of problem solving, active memory, critical thinking, abstract thought, heightened attention, or any other advanced/complex brain activity, a person can strengthen and potentially preserve their mental capacity and cognitive ability for a longer period of time. It’s often helpful to do this in the form of games.

Activity books are a good option for something to be placed in a wellness kit. The books shouldn’t be ones written for children, but they should also not be so challenging as to cause frustration and negative self-talk.  We recommend activity books marked as “easy” or “for seniors.”

Other books that could help with cognitive functioning are spot the difference puzzle books and books that focus on interesting facts or stories in short, digestible summaries.

Coping Tools/Aids
Sometimes it can be difficult to remember skills and exercises that have been learned to help cope with intense feelings. These are the times people need those coping strategies the most. For that reason, people have developed tools like these Coping Cards and Thumballs. Unfortunately, these products can be rather expensive. Fortunately, the products needed to make one’s own custom versions are not terribly expensive.

  • A Thumball is about the same size as a size 1 soccer ball. To be closer in feel to a Thumball, one could select a vinyl covered soft soccer ball or a foam and vinyl soccer ball. With these options and a non-toxic permanent marker, individuals can add their own coping reminders.
  • Pocket-sized photo albums are a great item to remind clients of people, places, and events in their life that they are grateful for and bring them joy.
  • Gratitude Journals are a proven way to improve mood and resilience. These are also available in convenient pocket sizes.
  • “Page-a-day” & “flip-to” books are a quick and effortless way for people to find brief passages to ponder over. These can often be found on sale at bookstores.
  • A Safety Straw can help a person who has developed difficulty swallowing to maintain a degree of independence for longer and avoid choking. These straws limit the amount of liquid that can be drawn in at a time so that the volume of the beverage a person is drinking when manually controlling intake becomes challenging. There are distinct straws for thin and thick liquids and many are designed to look like familiar, disposal drinking straws.

Welcome Home Reentry Program

Our Welcome Home Reentry program supports returning-citizens in Prince George’s County and DC with accessible housing, jobs, treatment services, and food assistance.

Each pack should include:
– One (1) adult sized backpack
– One (1) set of toothbrush and toothpaste
– One (1) deodorant
– One (1) body soap and lotion
– One (1) disposable razor
– One (1) pair of socks
– One (1) set of hat, gloves (only needed in fall/winter)
– One (1) pair of underwear (women’s sizes XL- 3X; men’s sizes 2XL- 4XL)

Amazon Wish list

Optional items:
– SmarTrip metro card
– Portable alarm clock
– Pocket calendar
– Non-perishable snack

To donate a set(s) of 10 Returning Citizens Welcome Pack please contact Karen McNeal at Karen.McNeal@cc-dc.org

Sanctuaries For Life

Our Sanctuaries for Life program is a pregnancy support program that works to build a network of medical, tangible, emotional and spiritual assistance to women that make a life-affirming decision after facing an unintended pregnancy.

New Life pack should include:
– One (1) small pack of diapers
– One (1) pack of wipes
– One (1) baby care kit: nail scissors, medicine spoon, thermometer, suction bulb
– One (1) small bottle of infant gas drops
– One (1) diaper rash ointment
– One (1) pair of baby booties
– One (1) pack of onesies
– One (1) receiving blanket
– One (1) pack of bibs

Amazon Wish list

Postpartum pack should include:
– One (1) pack of sanitary pads
– One (1) tube of hemorrhoid cream
– One (1) shampoo and conditioner
– One (1) shower gel
– One (1) tube of nipple cream
– One (1) deodorant
– One (1) bath sponge
– One (1) set of toothbrush and toothpaste

Amazon Wish list

To donate a set(s) of 10 New born or Postpartum Mother Care Packs please contact Michelle Williams at Michelle.Williams@cc-dc.org

Immigration Legal Services

Our Immigration Legal Services (ILS) focuses on the provision of direct legal immigration services to foreign-born individuals and their families. ILS has represented individuals from more than 135 countries around the world needing legal assistance with an immigration matter.

Education Pack should include:
– One (1) backpack
– One (1) spiral notebook
– One (1) binder
– One (1) pack of loose leaf paper
– One (1) Spanish-English dictionary
– One (1) lunch bag
– One (1) pack of pens and pencils
– One (1) combination lock
– A note of welcome and hope

Amazon Wish list

Personal Pack should include:
– One (1) tote or drawstring bag
– One (1) shampoo
– One (1) body soap
– One (1) deodorant
– One (1) washcloth & towel 
– One (1) set of toothbrush and toothpaste
– One (1) hairbrush/comb
– One (1) pack of sanitary napkins (for girls; please NO tampons)
– One (1) set of hat, gloves, and scarf (only needed in fall/winter)
– A note of welcome and hope

Amazon Wish list

To donate a set(s) of 10 Unaccompanied Minors Education or Personal Packs please contact Jacqueline Rishty at Jacqueline.Rishty@cc-dc.org

Trafficking Victims Assistance Program

The Trafficking Survivors Assistance Program at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. assists survivors of human trafficking with the support and resources needed to get back on their feet. Bags of Courage serve as a sign of hope and a reminder that they are not alone. We can access items and donations throughout the year. 

Clothing: 

We serve male and female survivors, so a variety of clothing sizes is appreciated. 

  • 1 pair of socks 
  • 1 pair of yoga or sweat pants (loose styles preferred) 
  • 2 NEW short sleeve t-shirts,  
  • 1-2 NEW Sports bras, comfortable underwear 
  • 1 pair  comfortable shoes (used but in good condition is acceptable)
  • 1 winter hats, gloves/mittens, and scarves
  • 1 winter coat 

Toiletries:  

  • 1-2 packs of feminine products 
  • 1 packet of toothpaste
  • 1 tooth brush 
  • 1 small packages of wipes 
  • 1 hair brush and packet of elastics
  • 1 tube of body wash 
  • 1 small size body lotion 
  • 1 small size shampoo and condition 
  • 1 shaving razor 
  • First-aid items like band aids 

Food: 

  • 1 package or bag of trail mix/small snacks 
  • 1 $10-15 gift cards for a hot meal 

Other: 

  • 1 small throw-size blankets 
  • 1 journal and pen 
  • 1 water bottle 
  • 1 stuffed animal 

Amazon Wish List

We also take donations in the form of cash or checks that can help contribute to this effort. For more information please call 202.481.1414 or email TVAP@cc-dc.org .

Drop off location:1018 Monroe St. NE Washington D.C. 20017 (Mon-Fri business hours)