The Bus to Bethlehem is returning, bringing hope for a better Christmas for children in need throughout the region.

St. Sebastian Regional Catholic School is teaming up with Connect Inc., an affiliate of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services Inc., in a mission to collect Christmas gifts for children in need throughout Washington, Greene and Westmoreland counties. The list contains more than 150 names of children from Connect Inc. housing programs and the Washington Family Center.

Connect Inc. provides a full range of services for the homeless, near-homeless and low-income individuals, children and families in the three-county area.

“We are so pleased to be teaming up again with St. Sebastian School on the Bus to Bethlehem,” said Lyndsay Burrik, executive director of Connect Inc.

“Last year, Christmas was made a little brighter for more than 150 families. We are grateful for the continued support of the community in this mission.”

The bus arrived Nov. 25 at the school, located in North Belle Vernon. Gifts will be collected through Dec. 16 and then distributed to families in time for Christmas.

Students at St. Sebastian School will make tags for the gifts and wrap the gifts as a part of a buddy day activity, which pairs a younger student with an older buddy student in the school.

Tags are being placed on a Christmas tree at St. Sebastian School. This project is open to all who would like to make Christmas bright for a child in need. The public can come to the school office to pick a gift tag or email Michelle Watson to receive one. Tags will include gender and age of child plus their Christmas wish.

In addition, some tags will be placed on trees at churches in the area.

For additional information, email Michelle Watson, PTG President for St. Sebastian Regional Catholic School in North Belle Vernon, at

“The involvement of our children in this project just adds a special significance to the meaning of Christmas,” Watson said.

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