Schools around the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend gave the faithful an opportunity to spread the real meaning of Christmas while raising funds for good causes. Outdoor Nativity scenes could be purchased for $110 through select schools. Of the cost, $20 goes to the purchaser’s academic institution.
While Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne participated in the fundraiser last year, this year brought new dimension to the project, as a friendly rivalry with Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne added a competitive element to the fundraiser. While it wasn’t involved in the competition between Catholic high schools, Marian High School in Mishawaka also sold the Nativity scenes. Throughout the Indianapolis area, where the fundraiser started, sales are held through parishes, schools, and two Presbyterian churches. This year, 39 organizations participated in the project.
Made of PVC plastic, the outdoor Nativity sets are made to last for years, according to promotional material. They are constructed of material that is white all the way through the display, so it needs no repainting in case it would get dinged, dented or scratched.
Sales of the sets was the brainchild of Jim Liston of Catholic Business Exchange, an organization based in Indianapolis that encourages faith, friendship, and business opportunity. The fundraiser began when Liston made a comment during a meeting that it would be fun to make central Indiana the outdoor Nativity capital of the United States. One thing led to another, and Project Outdoor Nativity Scene was born.
“Project Outdoor Nativity Scene provides a real opportunity to showcase our Christian mission of evangelizing and to put a spotlight on the true meaning of Christmas,” Liston said. “In addition, it can be a great way to make a little money, and each parish or school chooses where the money goes.”
At Bishop Luers, the money will go to curriculum needs in the Annual Fund, according to Georgia Lieb, the school’s Communications and Marketing Coordinator. At Bishop Dwenger, money earned will go to tuition assistance, according to Katie Slee, Director of Development.
Kristin Spoltman, Director of Mission Advancement at Bishop Luers, reached out to Catholic Business Exchange about the fundraiser last year, Lieb said, and 69 of the scenes were sold. Recalling the popularity of the “Battle of the Bishops” football game and the sock drive competition the two schools held previously, they decided to use that competitive spirit to help boost sales of the Nativity sets this year.
This year’s competition resulted in a tie between Luers and Dwenger, with the two schools selling a total of 170 sets, Lieb reported. While a specific date has not been set, the week of Thanksgiving is the current estimate for arrival for the Nativity sets. Organizers of the project said the scenes sold in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will be blessed by Bishop Rhoades prior to distribution.
While stoking the natural rivalry between the schools to reach additional funding goals might lead to a great outcome, all event organizers who spoke with Today’s Catholic pointed to a common importance for the endeavor. “The whole meaning behind this,” Liston said, “is to spread the true meaning of Christmas.”
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