hc stars 1PHOTO:  Left to right, Holy Cross School Grade 7 students Hannah Rizzi of Middletown, Charlotte Trentalange of Leonardo, Bridget Johnston of Fair Haven, Paige Jaenicke of Fair Haven, and Payton Lore of Rumson, assist in the transport of the secretly wrapped presents.

RUMSON – Each year during Advent, Holy Cross families look forward to the Stars for Jesus posters in the church vestibule. Each colorful star portrays a child’s or adult’s name with a short Christmas wish list. Families may take as few or as many as they feel they can provide. The families buy and wrap the gifts and then return them to the church with the star attached. To keep the gift wrap intact, and to maintain Santa-level secrecy, every gift is then wrapped in a black sack. 

During the second week of Advent, Holy Cross School students carry the many bags up from the church basement to awaiting cars, which transport the gifts to agencies all over Monmouth County. In all, over six hundred gifts were collected by Holy Cross parishioners, including fourteen bicycles in all sizes and colors.

hc stars 2PHOTO:  Seventh graders Peyton Lore of Rumson and Charlotte Trentalange of Leonardo lug a big present up from the church basement for delivery.

The Stars for Jesus program has been in effect for twenty years at the Catholic church, and it all started with Mrs. Janet Wood, former Principal of Holy Cross School. Along with her team, she contacts area agencies, creates either a paper or an online star for each Christmas wish, and ensures each wish is both fulfilled and delivered in time. It is a labor of love, joyfully carried out. “This is my baby,” she humbly says of the program.

Fr. Michael Manning, Pastor of Holy Cross Church, is delighted by the generosity of his flock, saying, “It’s an amazing outpouring of anonymous generosity in the true spirit of St. Nicholas.”

Holy Cross Church is an active and vibrant Roman Catholic community of faith nestled by the shore in Rumson. Join the congregation for Sunday Mass at 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., Noon, 5 p.m. or Traditional Latin Mass at 7:00 p.m.

hc stars 3PHOTO:  Mrs. Janet Wood, founder of the Stars for Jesus program.

Seventh graders Peyton Lore of Rumson and Charlotte Trentalange of Leonardo lug a big present up from the church basement for delivery.

Left to right, Holy Cross School Grade 7 students Hannah Rizzi of Middletown, Bridget Johnston of Fair Haven, Paige Jaenicke of Fair Haven, Charlotte Trentalange of Leonardo and Payton Lore of Rumson assist in the transport of the secretly wrapped presents.

Mrs. Janet Wood, founder of the Stars for Jesus program.