Mary Virginia Merrick, founder of the Christ Child Society, was born in Washington D.C., on November 2, 1866. Her parents were prominent and prosperous, but her bright prospects were dimmed in her middle teens when she sustained a grave injury from a fall. Medical treatment failed and she was destined to a life of invalidism. However, undaunted by her enforced recumbent position, Mary sewed on infant garments, guiding and encouraging a group of family and friends to prepare a layette for a needy baby at Christmas. This was the seed that has flowered into a nationwide society of dedicated workers carrying on countless activities on behalf of the young. Mary Merrick’s enthusiasm and dedication led to the establishment of a settlement house, day camps, medical clinics, and a hospital for children. Support came from many sources and when financial sources were slim, she was never deterred by lack of money, declaring that “the Christ Child will provide.”

Inspired by Mary Merrick’s accomplishments, Christ Child branches were organized in other cities. As each branch sought to meet the particular needs of their communities, many different and constantly changing projects in behalf of children were undertaken. Throughout the years, Mary Merrick stressed two precepts: first, "Nothing is ever too much to do for a child" and second, "The spirit of the Christ Child Society must partake of the Divine Child Himself, the Incarnate God, Whom we wish to make better known and loved."

“Love in the heart of a child for Christ… was the inspiration which gave birth to the Christ Child Society,” wrote Mary Virginia Merrick of the bank of lay volunteers she gathered together to minister “to the least fortunate of the little ones of His flock.” The story of the Christ Child Society for more then 100 years parallels the life of “Miss Mary”, who – from bed and wheelchair for sixty-two of her eighty-eight years – was it's inspiration and guide.-
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