Local teenagers involved with the youth ministry program at St. Augustine Church got the holiday season off on a giving note as they spent the Saturday after Thanksgiving volunteering at 15 area shelters.

The “day of service” event was very well received, according to Katie Scanlon LeBlanc, who leads the St. Augustine Youth Ministry program.

“It’s amazing how this has taken off, really amazing. I had over 70 teens and adults assisting at the shelters and doing different projects that the shelters needed help with,” LeBlanc said. “It was a great way to end Thanksgiving week and head into the Christmas season.”

The Andover group spent the day stocking food pantries, cleaning, making hundreds of sandwiches and doing other chores to aid the shelters.

The effort is called a “Unitas Service Experience” as participants are in unity with those they serve, LeBlanc said.

The volunteers were assigned to the following shelters: Lazarus House in Lawrence (two work sites), Emmaus House in Haverhill (two work sites), Pine Street Inn in Boston, Boston Rescue Mission, L’arche Irenicon in Haverhill (four work sites), Lawrence Catholic Academy, Cor Unum in Lawrence, Lowell Transitional Living Center and Habitat for Humanity: Re-Store. 

The Nov. 29 “Unitas Day” opened with Mass at St. Augustine Church. By 9 a.m., the volunteers were off to their assigned work sites. The cost to participate was $15, which covered lunch and a Unitas T-shirt.

“Most places are usually closed after Thanksgiving, but they wanted us to come and do a project,” LeBlanc said.

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