SALSTHON 2024 has raised $225,124.54 for St. Patrick's Center in Wilmington. SALSTHON 2024 has raised $225,124.54 for St. Patrick's Center in Wilmington. (Photo by Bud Keegan Photography)

SALSTHON raises $225K for St. Patrick’s Center in Wilmington

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Culture

SALSTHON 2024 has raised $225,124.54 for St. Patrick's Center in Wilmington. (Photo by Bud Keegan Photography)

SALSTHON 2024 has raised $225,124.54 for St. Patrick’s Center in Wilmington. (Photo by Bud Keegan Photography)

The St. Patrick’s Center in Wilmington had quite the St. Patty’s Day Weekend.

The 12th annual SALSTHON was Saturday night, and about a thousand people from three of the city’s Catholic schools – Salesianum, Ursuline and Padua – danced the night away, raising $225,124.54 for the downtown nonprofit.

RELATED: SALSTHON keeps $175K goal, will benefit St. Patrick’s Center

In back-to-back-years, the three schools far exceeded their fundraising goal of $175,000.

“What these schools do each year to make a difference in the greater Wilmington community is amazing and inspiring,” said Alison Hildenbrand, a college counselor at Salesianum. “SALSTHON is an excellent example of our students putting into action the values and missions of the three schools.”

The dance-marathon event, based on Penn State University’s THON, which many high schools and universities have adopted, raises funds for local charities. 

Last year’s beneficiary was the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, which helps families whose seriously ill children are getting care at Nemours Children’s Hospital.

LAST YEAR: SALSTHON smashes fundraising goal: $243,791 to help children

Peter Slattery, executive director of St. Patrick’s, pointed out that the organization had its annual fundraising event over the weekend too, which raises about the same amount of money that SALSTHON did.

“So we had a very good St. Patrick’s Day here,” Slattery said. “The SALSTHON event went pretty well for us, and we’re delighted.”

St. Patrick’s provides emergency food, respite for the homeless, clothing, transportation and recreational activities for people in need.

It feeds about 150 families every day with a hot breakfast and provides groceries. 

Last year, St. Patrick’s provided about 475,000 meals, according to Slattery.

“That’s sort of the gateway into the other services we provide, and we’re one of the few places you can get a shower in town,” he said. “We have a clothing closet and we have a pretty thriving Senior Center upstairs which has, in the last couple years, gone from about 40 members to 80 members so everything’s growing here and all of our programs have needs.”

He said the organization has responded to the increased foot traffic by expanding its social work department.

“If you come in for something as basic as food or clothes, we’re going to try and get you connected to all of the public and private resources you might have available,” he said, “either with state or federal programs or even, you know, our partnering agencies like Friendship House, West End, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and more.”

The money will be used as operating funds for St. Patrick’s, who faced the challenge of having COVID funds – both federal, state and individual donors – run dry. 

This year, SALSTHON lasted from 5 p.m. to midnight, whereas in the past it would start late and run through the early hours of the next day. 

Students seemed to really enjoy the change, said Frank Holodick, a senior and student council president at Salesianum.

“We also got blessed with some beautiful weather, and this combination led to an awesome start of the event where pretty much everyone was outside playing yard games, cards, basketball and eating together while we waited for the live music to start,” he said. 

He said his favorite part about SALSTHON 2024 is that it was centered around the live music.

“The live music started with a local student lead band called Mesh who blew everyone away with how impressive their drummer and lead guitarist was,” he said. “Then, the moment everyone was waiting for, Lovelytheband came on stage and played for about an hour. This was the absolute highlight of the night and one of my favorite moments in my entire Salesianum career.”

Holodick said Slattery and another employee came to all three schools and spoke to the student body about the impact that St. Patrick’s Center has on restoring dignity and hope to the less fortunate in Wilmington. 

“All of us have been very exposed to how truly incredible St. Patrick’s Center is and have all been really excited to raise money for such an impactful cause that is working right in our own backyard,” Holodick said. “I’m so thrilled at how much money we were able to raise for them because we’ve seen the impact these funds can make on a community with our own eyes through the center, and we’re so happy to have helped them further their community assistance.”

Padua Principal Mary McClory said the event and fundraising effort is an extraordinary demonstration of unity and generosity from the three schools.

“This collaborative endeavor illuminated the dynamic spirit of our community, and highlighted our dedication to service, which is one of the four pillars of Padua,” she said. 

Salesianum ingrains values of compassion, humility, patience, gratitude, optimism, gentleness and tenacity, Holodick said, but if students and staff never use those values outside of the campus, it is failing the entire mission as Salesians.

“That’s why it is so important to us that we engage in the community around us, lifting up our neighbors instead of being ignorant to their situations,” he said. 

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