Eighth Grader Gives Up Birthday Gifts to Support Catholic Charities

Talia Fogel comes from a family of volunteers, so it was no surprise when she decided that instead of getting presents for her 14th birthday party, she would rather give Catholic Charities a year’s supply of peanut butter and jelly for its soup kitchen.

Talia is an Eighth Grader at St. Elizabeth Parish School, Whitehall. She has volunteered at the soup kitchen, on Chew Street in Allentown, before, but has been unable to do so during the pandemic. So this was the next best thing.

After checking with the kitchen to see what they needed, Talia asked everyone attending the party to bring either peanut butter or jelly instead of a birthday gift. It ended up being enough to fill the back of her mom’s SUV.

“I have everything I need,” said Talia, “and I wanted to do something to help others.”

The entire family spends a lot of time giving of themselves for others, and much of this volunteer work is related to their parish and their Catholic faith.

Talia volunteers as an altar server and helps her mom, Donna, with the Sunday Morning children’s liturgy at St. Elizabeth. Before the pandemic, she accompanied her mom distributing the Holy Eucharist to shut-ins after Mass, and when COVID put a stop to that, she wrote out Christmas cards and mailed them to the people to stay connected.

Her older brother, Devon, has been a soup kitchen volunteer in the past. She and her brother help out at Vacation Bible School.

Her dad, Scott, heads the parish festival committee and is on the school board. The whole family helps out with the free Kids Running Series put on by the Lehigh Valley Road Runners. And in her “free” time, Talia does community service work with 4H.

“We believe the joy we get from all of these experiences inspires others to do the same,” says Donna. It also has inspired some pretty good peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the Chew Street Soup Kitchen.


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