Catholic schools give back

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Using the credo that it is better to give than receive, the students and staff of the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional School Division’s 17 schools have been preparing for Christmas in the most altruistic ways. Throughout each and every school year, approximately 6,500 students have joined their hands and hearts to help make their communities and the world itself, a better place.

Superintendent David Keohane said their extra-curricular involvement is a true testament to the very principles behind their education in school and in life.

“It’s where the whole rationale for pursuing the paradigms of a faith-based organization finds its meaning. It’s fundamental to the social teachings of the Catholic faith that we seek to pursue peace and care for the poor. That could be poor in financial means or poor in spirit.”

Here then is a small sample of their recent community-focused activities:

• Albert Lacombe (K-6): The school recently held a 25-cent bake sale and raised $2,300 for its annual Fill-A-Manger project for Canadian Food for the Hungry.

• Ă©cole Father Jan (K-6): The Grade 4 students have so far collected enough pennies to buy 12 mosquito nets for African children. The drama club is donating $300 of the proceeds from its Christmas concert to sponsor a Guatemalan orphan. The school supports the Kinette Christmas Hamper project but school council also has its own Christmas hamper program for which every class donates food and money to buy clothes and toys. Staff will also be volunteering with the St. Albert Food Bank and visiting with the residents of Youville Home. One class is helping to support a medical team going to Ecuador by providing new toothbrushes for distribution there.

• Ă©cole Marie Poburan (K-6): The school has been collecting non-perishable food as well as clothing to make Christmas hampers to be delivered to its friends at Edmonton’s Sifton School today. Families of students have also donated items to fill nine boxes for military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.

• J.J. Nearing (K-6): The school held a book sale to fundraise for the St. Albert Parish Guatemala project while the Grade 6 classes held bake sales to support World Vision and Operation Christmas Child.

• Neil M. Ross (K-6): Staff did the Salvation Army’s Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk to fundraise for families in need during the Christmas season. The fine arts club put on performances to liven up the season at two seniors’ lodges.

• Vital Grandin (K-6): The school follows two Corporal Works of Mercy to give drink to the thirsty and visit the imprisoned. The school recently held a flea market of donated items to raise money for Roots for Change. The school is also a partner in the Holy Family Parish’s project to bring clean water to a community in Guatemala. Many students also contributed their artistic talents to decorate Christmas gift bags for the occupants of the Edmonton Remand Centre.

• V.J. Maloney (Gr. 7-9): The school has been supporting Teens Helping Teens by collecting donations of toiletry items, mittens, gift cards and anything else that kids might need to get through the winter. The items will be donated to a teen shelter. Students and staff have also been collecting food and toys for the Kinette Christmas Hamper project.

• Ă©cole Secondaire Ste. Marguerite d’Youville (Gr. 7-12): Its major advent project this year raised more than $2,000 for a Haitian orphanage. The student council will be conducting numerous activities all this week to raise funds for the Youth Emergency Shelter in Edmonton.

• Richard S. Fowler (Gr. 7-9): The school collected 500 pounds of supplies and toys for children in the Dominican Republic.

• St. Albert Catholic High School (Gr. 10-12): The Independent Living Program is helping out the Kinette Christmas Hamper project with $1,000 of the money it earned through recycling. The group has also assigned a ‘family’ to each classroom, giving students extra incentive to purchase food and gifts for all members of their ‘family.’ The Give a Damn Club is hosting a Fair Trade Coffee House this week with proceeds and (a collection of winter clothing) going to support those clients of the Marian Centre in Edmonton.

• Georges P. Vanier (K-5): The school once again collected gift bags and non-perishable food items for the Knights of Columbus Christmas Hampers.

• Notre Dame (K-5): A food drive was held to support the Knights of Columbus Fill-A-Bus campaign. Grade 5 students also held their annual garage sale fundraiser with the worthy recipient of the funds as yet to be determined.

• Georges H. Primeau (Gr. 6-8): Its annual Toonies for Teens campaign has enabled the purchase of some St. Albert Centre gift certificates for Morinville and area teens in need.

• Morinville Community High School (Gr.9-12): A recent drive filled two pumpkin boxes of non-perishable food items for the food bank. Students also baked and sold cookies to fundraise for the University of Alberta Hospital. This is the fourth year that its students have volunteered at the Festival of Trees, assisting young children participating at the event.

• Legal School (K-9): The school conducted a food drive to support the Christmas Hamper campaign.

• St. Gabriel Storefront Outreach (Gr. 7-12): Students participated in Operation Christmas Child, donating more than $100 and filling more than 25 shoeboxes for deserving children across the world. They have also been decorating Christmas bags for the Edmonton Remand Centre.

• Division Office: Members of the administration team have been collecting items for the Kinette Christmas Hamper project and the St. Albert Food Bank. Staff members throughout the division have also been supporting the Catholic Social Services’ Sign of Hope campaign through regular payroll deductions.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.