In 1947, Rosaleen “Puddy” Crowley founded the Christ Child Society of South Bend by inviting 15 friends to join her in service to children living in poverty. Puddy’s mother was a member of the Washington D.C. Christ Child Society and played an important role in teaching her young daughter about the work of Mary Virginia Merrick who founded the National Christ Child Society in 1887.
Puddy attended Trinity College in DC where she became a member of the college’s Christ Child Society Chapter and got to know Miss Merrick. When Puddy moved to South Bend, she carried the love of the Christ Child Society with her. In 1947, she asked 15 friends to join her in forming a chapter.
Growing in Service to Children
As an initial project the chapter furnished infant clothing to families in need. The first layette was presented to a baby born shortly after midnight on Christmas morning. It seemed the Christ Child smiled on this new organization! Before long, calls were received asking for clothing for older children. The membership decided to add this project to their original proposal.
In summer, 1949, the South Bend chapter was incorporated and a constitution and by-laws were drawn up. They began to raise money with a Holiday Christmas Bazaar, first in members’ homes and later in the St. Anthony School gym. This became a much anticipated annual event in South Bend.
The Clothing Centers: Thomas Street
The Clothing Centers: Scott Street
In 2007, the Chapter’s 60th Anniversary year, the Board of Directors began the search for a new location because the number of children and infants served annually had exceeded 4,000. CCS had outgrown the aging Thomas Street building. The former Saint Patrick’s School on Scott Street was underutilized by the parish and in May of 2008, after extensive remodeling, the Christ Child Society moved 3 blocks to its new home.
The South Bend Chapter celebrated its 70th anniversary with a public exhibit at the History Museum, an event that showed the community the extent of its connections and contributions to the children of Saint Joseph County.