Shelton's Doyle continues giving family tradition with Communion Closet

Mallory Doyle, a junior at St. Joseph High School and a Shelton resident, is continuing a Communion Closet started by her sister several years ago for the upcoming Communion season.

Mallory Doyle, a junior at St. Joseph High School and a Shelton resident, is continuing a Communion Closet started by her sister several years ago for the upcoming Communion season.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — Mallory Doyle knows how small gestures can have enormous impacts on those in need.

The Shelton resident was part of a school trip to Puerto Rico, where she joined classmates in aiding in the cleanup from Hurricane Maria which devastated the island in 2017. She was a freshman at St. Joseph’s High School at the time.

“It made me appreciate how much can be accomplished when people pull together to help others in their community, and I was happy to do my part while I was there and at home now,” Doyle said this past week.

That attitude has prompted Doyle to continue a tradition started years ago by her older sister, Marisa, who created the Communion Closet to collect communion clothing for families in need.

“It is important for me to continue as I saw firsthand how such a small gesture, with very little effort to put together, could mean so much to others,” Doyle, now a junior at St. Joseph’s High School, said. “During the past year, so many people lost their jobs. It made me realize that people may need help this year and I am happy to offer the same solution.”

Because of the pandemic, available items can be viewed virtually on the Facebook Group Page Communion Closet - Upper Fairfield County/Naugatuck Valley Area. Each piece is numbered and includes the description and size of the item available.

“Because of COVID, the Communion Closet works differently now,” Doyle said. “With restrictions still in place and lack of available space, it was better to host it virtually.”

Doyle said pictures and descriptions of each item are posted online to allow for contactless selection and pickup. Donations are still being requested, and she said she will pick up as needed.

Doyle said her sister’s idea to create the Communion Closet came out of a chance meeting years after the older Doyle was in second grade and saw the hardship suffered by one of her classmates at the now-defunct St. Joseph Elementary School in Shelton.

Doyle said Marisa, while preparing for her own second-grade communion, found out a classmate was upset that her parents could not afford much and did not know if she could get a dress. The girl's father had been laid off. She left the school shortly after.

“Years later (Marisa) ran into that friend. They were talking, and that communion story came up,” Doyle said. “She had forgotten about it but in reflection, Marisa thought she could help others. The elementary school offered a uniform exchange closet, where parents could donate uniforms their child had outgrown and selected from larger sizes if needed.”

Based on the uniform exchange idea, Doyle said her sister decided to do something similar and called it the Communion Closet.

“It was a cardboard box which we decorated (that) was placed in the church hall and a request for donations was made in the church bulletin,” Doyle said. “After the donations came in, the items were offered to anyone in the community that had a need. They did not have to belong to the parish.

“It was very successful,” Doyle added, “and she received donations and requests from all over Fairfield County.”

Marisa graduated from St. Joseph Elementary School in 2013, St. Joseph’s High School in 2017 and the University of Connecticut last year.

"The generosity was overwhelming,” Doyle said about her sister’s Communion Closet. “I often helped because the closet was in the church hall which was also our cafeteria, and my sister was at the high school. She asked me to make sure it looked neat when I went to lunch. Most of the donations were dresses but there were also suits, ties, veils, gloves and shoes.”

To make a request, send a message or email to sjcommunioncloset@gmail.com with the item number and your contact information to arrange for pickup.

Donations of gently used or new dresses, suits or accessories are being accepted. Contact via messenger or email at sjcommunioncloset@gmail.com to make arrangements.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com