‘We are called to serve’: VCS students help those less fortunate than themselves

Published 9:00 pm Monday, December 18, 2017

The season of giving is in full swing at the Vicksburg Catholic Schools.

Through a partnership with Family First of Mississippi, students at St. Francis Xavier Elementary and St. Aloysius High School have worked to give back throughout the Christmas season.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Students at St. Francis recently completed a collection drive for toothbrushes and toothpaste, which will be donated to the United Way of West Central Mississippi’s 19 partner agencies. The schools have also been collecting donations for the children’s shelter through a daily penny harvest and students at St. Al have worked on a variety of projects to help Haven House.

“It is who we are,” Joan Thornton, the head of the theology department at St. Al, said. “That is what Catholic education is about. We are called to serve. We say we are in a relationship with Christ, we have to answer it somehow. We answer it by what are the gifts I have and how can I share them. Kids can do it by their manpower they have and their smiles.”

Students at the Catholic schools are required to complete service hours as part of the curriculum, but Thornton said many of the students really buy in and develop a culture of service among their whole family.

“I think the role of service for them, I think they come to find out who they are, they come to appreciate what they have and how much some people in our community don’t have,” Thornton said. “It raises their awareness of domestic violence. They sit in a classroom and think it doesn’t occur.”

Students from St. Al are not able to actually go to Haven House to volunteer, but they have found ways to help by bringing projects to the school that can be completed and then returned to the shelter.

“They had presents that needed wrapping so they delivered the presents here and our students during theology class came to the library or my office and wrapped the presents. Then we delivered the presents to Haven House,” Kara Doiron, the community outreach coordinator, said. 

Students have also been holding a drive to collect pajamas to be donated to the women staying at Haven House.

“At Haven House, a lot goes to the children, but the ladies aren’t immediately thought of. It is what can we do to help the ladies right now so we are trying to put a big focus on how to help the ladies,” Doiron said. “Our goal is that every time a lady comes to Haven House she will have a new pair of pajamas. Each month based on the needs of Haven House, we will have a drive. Pajamas were a need.”

Although they do projects throughout the year, Thornton said they always do more during the Christmas season as the needs are more apparent and it is a time when people are looking to give back.

“Everybody has needs, and you hate for any child not to get something. Everyone wants to make sure this is the season of giving and everybody gets something or needs something done,” she said.