Students give to students for Lent
Integral to the Christian observance of Lent, as well as being a student at Immaculata Catholic School, is serving others. For the past five years, students at the pre-K-8 school have raised money for students in Haiti to go to school. This year, they completed their Lenten fundraising within the first week of the liturgical season leading up to Easter.
When people think about observing Lent, they often think about giving something up, said seventh-grader Michael Saleeby. He did that, too – sweet tea, for the record – but also donated money to the Haiti project at his school.
Through Family Health Ministries, the North Carolina-based nonprofit that supports Haitian communities, Immaculata is sponsoring three children’s annual education costs in Fondwa, Haiti. Students in Fondwa often walk long distances to school – hours a day. Michael and his sister, Madison, a fifth grader, get a ride to and from school. Madison said it’s sad children have to walk so far to get to school. Education for children in Haiti is mainly just for those who pay for it. Along with tuition, the $300 donated per student also includes beans and rice meals, vitamins, uniforms and textbooks.
“I felt kind of gifted, that to us is just an ordinary day thing – they get excited to have,” Michael said.
Immaculata has also donated medical and school supplies to Haiti over the past five years. It started at the suggestion – then continued with voting by teachers – of Leslie Huml, a kindergarten teacher’s assistant. She goes to Haiti each summer with her church, Triangle Presbyterian, to teach Vacation Bible School. She volunteers both in Fondwa and communities outside Port-au-Prince. Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in January 2010. The school in Fondwa, called St. Antoine, is being rebuilt, with a third floor being constructed for completion this year, Huml said. Six hundred children attend, and 29 are also sponsored by Triangle Presbyterian Church. Immaculata has raised money to support three students annually, with enough collected last year to support four.
Each Advent, Immaculata students concentrate on local outreach, and look internationally for Lent.
Lari Hatley, the director of advancement at Immaculata, said the Haiti outreach project is a “wonderful example of Immaculata way of life,” which includes the goal to “live a life of service.”
After Lent began with Ash Wednesday, classrooms collected change in milk jugs, with classes engaging in a “Penny War” to see who could raise the most. The sixth-graders raised the most in coins, with the seventh-graders raising the most overall, for $900 total going to Haitian students.
Huml said the students’ fundraising for Haiti helps build character, integrity and compassion. “They know they’re doing something positive. It’s also something we’re expected to do as Christians. Our neighbors might live thousands of miles away, but they are still our neighbors,” she said.
To learn about Family Health Ministries and ways to contribute, visit familyhm.org.