A group of Mercy High School friends have teamed up to assemble care packages for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a service project called A Butterfly of Love.
The girls put together packages of face masks for people working and volunteering on the front lines during the pandemic. They also are delivering care cards for patients and people who cannot receive visitors, and including messages of thanks to helpers and caregivers. A Butterfly of Love mandala is a gift of patience, love and hope. A mandala represents that life is never ending and everything is connected.
Junior Kaila Lujambio created the project and is the lead organizer, along with senior Katie Bogucki. Week by week more “butterflies of love” are coming aboard. Currently, the following Mercy students are involved: Gabby Algiere '23, Christina Beaulieu '20, Jess Bogucki '23, Elena Cahill '21, Gabby Grant ’20, Aine Lally '22, Sarah Lynch '23, Julia Nadolski '23, Elisia Pagliuca ’21, Amanda Ross '21, Lindsay Stevenson '20, Madeleine Thompson ’21, Lillian Wimler ’21.
The project is a team effort fueled by the Mercy spirit. At home, each student handles a specific task to make all the parts of the project work, such as making caring cards, writing thank-you notes, coloring the "A Butterfly of Love" mandalas, or dropping off the packages.
At Mercy there is a saying: “The Circle of Mercy is Timeless,” and this project is the proof. Senior Emilee Apuzzo works at the Big Y supermarket in Guilford. In need of a face mask, she saw the Butterfly of Love boxes on a counter in her department. When she asked her supervisor where they came from, the reply was, “Some girls from Mercy dropped them off.” That is the spirit of Mercy and the reason the circle is timeless. The butterflies helped a friend, a classmate, a woman of Mercy who is working to help the community at large.
By visiting the project’s website, people can request the donation of care packages to places in need. “We have raised enough money for about 2,500 three-ply FDA and EU approved masks to be donated,” Lujambio said ”We are waiting on more masks. By request of some donors, we have started including some local business gift cards as well.”
Each package includes a label with the words: While we are apart, we still have each other.
While the friends rely mainly on word-of-mouth, the response has been tremendous. The group has delivered 1,875 face masks and 605 encouragement and thank you cards. The list is growing. One alumna sent in a request to the advancement office at Mercy High School seeking donations, and within hours, the butterflies accepted the request and began working on the donation for an assisted living center in Middletown.
Some of the local recipients that have received care packages include the Columbus House shelters in New Haven, Wallingford, Middlesex counties (which are now operating from hotels); Whitney Rehabilitation Care Center, Hamden; Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Children’s Center, Middletown; Poet Seat Health Center;
Middlesex Hospital ICU, Middletown; Middletown Police Department; St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen, Middletown; Master’s Manna Food Pantry, Wallingford; Yale New Haven Hospital, New Haven; COVID Shelter One, New Haven; Town of Wallingford employees; and area food/grocery stores and frontline workers.
“We are being very careful with our drop-off/pick-ups by following distance requirements, wearing masks, using gloves, washing hands,” Lujambio said. “It takes a bit of coordination and we are trying to be contactless to enforce the staying six feet apart requirement. Our parents, teachers, and alumnae have helped us with deliveries, too.”
The statement on the About Us page of the website says it all: We are group of young women joined by the Circle of Mercy. We are current Mercy High School students joined to continue the works of Mercy our community inspires. This virus does not stop the love and care for others. Our group wants to assure people can have the protection and support needed to continue taking care of others in challenging positions.
To purchase, donate or request a care package or donation, visit abutterflyoflove.wixsite.com/abutterflyoflove. The group has been posting online updates at their Instagram account @AButterflyofLove.
By Marie C. Kalita