PORTLAND---Part of the mission of Maine Catholic schools is to accentuate the importance of service with the hope of building a lifelong commitment and appreciation in each student to give back to those in need. Last week, that lesson was on full display at schools across Maine during Maine Catholic Schools Week as students designed and completed many service projects to help local organizations.
All Saints Catholic School, Bangor
The students at All Saints donated and collected cans of soup and other food items and socks to donate to the Bangor Ecumenical Food Cupboard.
“All Saints came through in a big way with the donation of nearly 500 pounds of food,” said Rita Wooster, a director at the food cupboard. “We’re serving more neighbors than ever before, and this contribution goes a long way to meeting that need. We are so thankful for this blessing.”
The students also donated hundreds of socks to the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter.
St. Brigid School, Portland
Students at St. Brigid collected and assembled items to create over 110 cleaning and toiletry kits for St. Elizabeth’s Essential Pantry on Park Street in Portland.
The kits went directly out to community members in need over the weekend. An additional 112 art kits created by the students were given to Maine Needs for distribution to families as well.
“Maine Needs was overwhelmed by the total of 232 cleaning/toiletry and art kits created by the St. Brigid School community,” said Ellen Couture, director of admissions and marketing at St. Brigid. “It is wonderful to know that the kits were immediately distributed to people who needed them. This was a fabulous service project for Catholic Schools Week.”
Saint Dominic Academy, Lewiston/Auburn
At the St. Dom’s campus in Auburn (Grades 6-12), students collected toiletries for those staying at homeless shelters; constructed bookshelves for the Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston, which provides food and shelter to those in need; built birdfeeders for area nursing homes; designed coffee mugs and face mask extenders for caregivers at St. Mary’s Urgent Care in Auburn; and made fleece blankets for the animals at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society.
At the Lewiston campus, students collected items for patients at Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice as well as family members who might be staying with loved ones.
“Community service at St. Dom's gives us an opportunity to get out and put others first,” said senior Lauren Theriault. "It is important to take time away from academics and sports and clubs and do something for other people."
St. James School, Biddeford
Students at St. James brought in soup and monetary donations for the Biddeford Food Pantry.
“They raised over $250 and many donations of soup and non-perishable food,” said Principal Nancy Naimey. “I didn’t count it but it was a trunkful!”
St. John's Catholic School, Brunswick
Students, teachers, and staff participated in a food collection contest between classrooms with all proceeds benefitting the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. The school traditionally donates well over 2,000 pounds of food to the program each year, helping hundreds of local families in the process. Last week alone, the school donated nearly 800 pounds of food.
St. Michael School, Augusta
The students at St. Michael School collected hundreds of school supplies for refugee children in Maine that are served by Catholic Charities Maine's Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS). Each grade was assigned different items to donate like crayons, books, toys, construction paper, chalk, erasers, water bottles, calculators, binders, pencil cases, folders, and markers.
“In completing the service projects, the students are learning service to others while demonstrating the values and faith they are getting in a Catholic education,” said Kevin Cullen. “To see the children so excited to give back is beautiful. They did a fantastic job, as always. I’m very proud of them.”
Mount Merici Academy, Waterville
The academy hosted a donation drive to help those in need at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter by collecting tissues, toilet paper, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, and socks. The items were used to assemble personal care kits for shelter residents.
St. Thomas School, Sanford
St. Thomas School donated boxes and boxes of food for the St. Thérèse Food Closet and participated in a “stuff the bus” event to provide school supplies for York County children in need. In addition, the students collected monetary donations in water jugs to raise money for Waban, which serves adults and children with disabilities.
“Our school tries to raise as much money as possible,” said Ellery, a seventh grader. “We are honored to be helping such a kind and respectable organization.”
Holy Cross School, South Portland
Holy Cross School in South Portland held a penny challenge that raised over $1,500 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children diagnosed with a critical illness. In the United States and its territories, on average, a wish is granted every 34 minutes.
Cheverus High School, Portland
Cheverus High School in Portland held a personal care items drive to support Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Food Pantry in Portland.
“The Key Club and student government coordinated and sorted the donations, creating over 100 bags of essential toiletries for men, women, and families,” said Dr. John Moran, principal of Cheverus. “They did an amazing job.”
Students also wrote letters of gratitude to many individuals and groups, including first responders, postal workers, local businesses and organizations, active military, veterans, teachers, staff, clergy, women religious, parents/guardians, grandparents, volunteers, seminarians, and made Valentine’s cards for residents at local nursing homes and veterans’ homes.
“Through the enthusiasm and hope they create in these difficult times, our Catholic schools continue to be warm and caring places where excellence in academics is encouraged, service is valued, and the importance of loving God and neighbor is celebrated,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “May our schools continue to help our children appreciate God’s love for them and bring hope to our world.”