For months, school children, fellow parents, school and parish staff and parishioners of St. Joseph, Fullerton, have been diligently rooting for the Pirozzi family, specifically Xavia Pirozzi, a St. Joseph fifth grader who received a heart transplant Jan. 6. Through fundraisers, personal assistance, and an online hospital “care page,” love, encouragement, and support have poured in from concerned individuals.
The St. Joseph community has pooled together their resources to help the family face their share of the medical costs – $600,000.
Students collected nearly $3,000 in their “Silver for Xavia” coin collection, with another month to go. The school has also sold $1 rubber band bracelets bearing a heart and Xavia’s name. Parents formed The Heart of St. Joseph committee to organize a March 10 fundraiser.
Joanna Borys, Xavia’s grandmother, who has worked in the parish office for 30 years, said so many people have reached out, including strangers, with no questions asked. “Even if it was only a hug,” she said, “that’s all we needed.” People would tell her “just so you know, I’m caring and praying.”
“The whole thing,” she said, “has been a parish community supporting a family in need. We really have a strong relationship with that parish, from Father Kevin (Schenning, pastor) to the teachers.”
She described school parents stepping in to help with Xavia’s four siblings (including triplets) when the kids had a school day off or to make casseroles for the Pirozzis who have been trekking up and down I-95 for almost a year to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where Xavia was admitted March 6, 2006.
Even outside of the community, Catholic schools in the archdiocese are chipping in. When St. Margaret School, Bel Air, learned about Xavia, they quickly pulled together a Valentine’s Day raffle.
In a related money raising effort, Beth Schwartz, a GBMC doctor and friend of Nicolle Pirozzi, Xavia’s mother, is selling jewelry, ornaments and boxes on the www.theheartofstjosephs.com Web site, donating 100 percent of profits to the family fund. For this “Hearts for Xavia” project, talented artisans from New York to Washington, D.C., have donated unique heart-shaped merchandise.
In a cocktail party atmosphere, attendees of the March 10 wine tasting and auction will be able to enjoy game wheels, appetizers, desserts, 100 wines, microbrew beer, a gourmet coffee bar, and music by Tony Sciuto from 7-11 p.m. in the St. Joseph parish center.
Bidders in the silent and live auctions can walk away with unique items such as: vacations, a diamond heart necklace, custom-designed Web site and hosting, autographed sports memorabilia, a John Travolta autographed fire chief hat, and much more. A video of Xavia and her family will play at the event.
Amy Meyerl, event co-chair said the committee’s goal is to raise between $40,000-$50,000 and sell 500 tickets ($35 each). Currently 50/50 raffle tickets are selling for $5 each.
Mail checks for the event or raffle, or a general donation payable to St. Joseph Church, to Claudia Rossi, 3701 Parkhurst Way, Baltimore, Md., 21236. (Memo line must indicate “Xavia Pirozzi.”) For additional information, contact Mrs. Meyerl, 410-248-2134.