Sophomore James O’Hara saw an opportunity to help families in our local area who may be struggling to provide Christmas gifts for their children this season. Along with families from his alma mater, Father Andrew White school in Leonardtown, Maryland, and his classmates at St. Mary’s Ryken (SMR), James began collecting new and gently used toys for families.

“I had previously worked with Mrs. Beth Allen (SMR Campus Minister) in the SMR Caritas Resource Center to help prepare ‘Boxes of Hope’ for those less fortunate moving into housing,” said James O’Hara ’24. “I realized that there was another opportunity to help these families during the Christmas season. I organized a toy collection of new and gently used toys so that the children of these families could have presents for Christmas. As an alumnus of Father Andrew White, I reached out to the school to ask if they were interested in participating, to which they enthusiastically agreed.”

Over the course of the toy drive, James collected four large boxes of toys to give to the families in the local Southern Maryland area.

Principal Catherine Bowes noted: “James is a wonderful example of the power of each of us to impact the lives of others. Thank you, James, for showing us the way!”

The toys will be distributed through “Building Bridges”, a nonprofit organization in Lexington Park, Maryland that assists families in need. 

James’ motivation to help others continued and he was able to leverage the resources in the MIL STEM and Innovation wing on the SMR campus to help him. Recently, James partnered with Mr. Jon Smith, SMR Science, and Math teacher, to print rosary rings using the 3-D printers.  “Project Rosaries for Hope” has produced 73 rosary rings so far and he’s still in production!  

“The rosary ring project came to me when I was thinking about Mrs. Allen wanting to distribute rosaries to detention centers but was unable to because it was considered unsafe,” said James. “I used the 3-D printers in the SMR STEM lab to print small, plastic, pocket-sized rosary rings as an alternative.”

“James is an authentic leader in our school community as he exemplifies the five Xaverian values each and every day,” said Mr. Jonathan Smith. “We are so excited to usher James towards a future brimming with service and success.”


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