VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 3/30/2010
Elementary students pack pencil cases for Haiti by DEBBIE SHELDRAKE & MICHELLE LEPINE Children Liturgy group from St. Aloysius, Thorold, preparing pencil cases for the children of Haiti (l-r) Jenna Lepine, Emma Kennedy, Maria, Anne & Joseph Braun, Elsa Figueroa, Michelle Lepine, Josh Braun, Juan-Carlos Figueroa. Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) elementary schools have joined the high schools in the decade-long tradition of supporting schools in Haiti through the Fr. Denis Warburton Project. “This is a great way to introduce young students to high school projects in Haiti,” said David Drago, teacher at Denis Morris Catholic High School, St. Catharines. This will be Marie-Immaculée-Conception’s School in Haiti’s first experience connecting with NCDSB students. Through Lent, students in elementary schools have worked to raise money for pencil cases filled with school supplies to send to students in Haiti. What makes this project special is that it directly connects students in Niagara with students in Haiti. The student in Haiti who receives the gift will reply to the sender. This elevates a gesture of giving into a tangible, hands-on mission experience for the students here. Students at St. Christopher and St. Theresa Catholic Elementary Schools in St. Catharines, have adopted Marie-Immaculée-Conception School in Madeline, which is located in a very poor suburb outside of Cap Haïtien. Parish assistance came from St. Patrick, St. Catharines, when it joined St. Theresa Catholic Elementary School in support of the project. Together they successfully reached their goal of sending a pencil case filled with supplies from each student of St. Theresa’s. The Children’s Liturgy group at St. Aloysius, Thorold, was also eager to participate. “ We had been praying that some kind of mission experience would come along that the young children could take part in and understand”, said Michelle Lepine, parish youth ministry co- ordinator. The children, collectively with parishioners, filled 40 pencil cases and included a personalized letter to a specific child. St. Michael Catholic Elementary School, Virgil, has worked alongside Holy Cross High School to send pencil cases to students at St. Croix School in the village of Thibeau, Haiti. Classes from St. Peter Catholic Elementary School, St. Catharines, and St. Ann Catholic Elementary School, Fenwick, have sent pencil cases to Regina Assumpta Elementary School in Cap Häiten. In the spirit of social justice, NCDSB students demonstrated the true meaning of being a Christian. An example of this is Ciara Flikema, a Grade 8 student at St. Ann Catholic Elementary School, Fenwick, who offered all the money she earned babysitting to purchase and fill several pencil cases, inspired by faith and a desire to make a difference to students in Haiti. In total, this pilot project sent 1,154 pencil cases to students in Haiti, along with paper, sports equipment and printing kits at an estimated value of $8,000. The Sisters of the Holy Cross in Haiti have recently assumed responsibility for Marie- Immaculée-Conception School at the urging of the Haitian government due to the unprecedented success rate of the students attending schools in Haiti that are run by them.
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