Inspired to help those in need in their own community and abroad, students at St. Joseph School in Hanover took it upon themselves to conduct projects and raise funds and supplies for a well in Tanzania and items for new moms and their babies.
The first undertaking, to build a well in Tanzania, began after a visit from a missionary priest – Father Constantine – in August. He spoke at Sunday Mass about the lack of access to water in the east African country, and the cost to build a well for clean and accessible water. Sixth-grade student Caroline Brown was so moved by the priest’s words that she wrote a letter to St. Joseph School Principal Melissa Connahey to request that the students raise funds to help build a well. Connahey spoke with homeroom teacher Elaine Gilbert, and the two agreed upon a class-wide project.
The entire sixth-grade class created posters, flyers and went class to class to tell the student body about the need for clean water. As a result, the students raised $800 for the well project through donations toward a dress-down day.
In mid-November, Father Constantine returned to Seven Sorrows Parish for Mass for the middle school students and parishioners, and was presented with the funds.
“He was beyond grateful, as he had been preaching all over the country and we were the first school to do this and raise money towards the cause,” Connahey told The Catholic Witness.
The priest taught students some words in Swahili during Mass, and expressed gratitude for their giving hearts. He will return to Tanzania on December 1.
Several weeks after the fundraiser for Tanzania, Connahey received another letter, this time from three fourth-grade students requesting a meeting with her.
“One day at recess, these girls came down to my office, notebook in hand, to tell me that they watched the project that sixth-grade did and they wanted to do something similar,” Connahey said. “These young ladies told me that they really wanted a way to support single mothers having babies. They researched the Gabriel Project [and] made a call to find the top three items that were needed.”
The Gabriel project is a national, parish-based pregnancy assistance program that provides immediate and practical assistance to a woman or family experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
Connahey agreed to another dress-down day fundraiser, and the girls put in the effort to gather the entire fourth-grade to make posters – in English and Spanish – requesting donations for the pro-life project. When the items were contributed, they collected and sorted donations from each class.
“Mr. King, Parish Rep for the Gabriel Project, came to school to pick up the donations. The cart was so full that the teacher had to push instead of the students. Mr. King said it was the largest, single donation he has even gotten in the past seven to eight years working there,” Connahey said.
The projects – initiated and conducted by the students themselves – are examples of servitude and illustrations of caring for those in need, Connahey said.
(Photos courtesy of St. Joseph School.)