St. Al students participate in Mother Teresa Tuesday

Published 7:56 pm Thursday, July 12, 2018

Students from Vicksburg Catholic Schools spent most of Wednesday in Jackson following the example of Mother Teresa of serving others, delivering snacks for families of patients at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital and helping at the Our Daily Bread kitchen in Canton.

The students’ work is part of a summer program called Mother Teresa Tuesday, which was developed through a partnership of Vicksburg Catholic Schools and Families First for Mississippi, where adult and student volunteers work at different locations in the area

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The volunteers participated in the adopt-a-floor program at Blair Batson, where they delivered $3,000 worth of snacks donated by students and parents at VCS to the hospital to provide snacks free of charge for the family members of patients.

At Our Daily Bread, the volunteers helped prepare and serve about 90 meals for people in Canton, helped unload delivery trucks, organized the organization’s pantry and helped clean up.

Although this was the first time the students participated in Mother Teresa Tuesday and the first visits to Blair Batson and Our Daily Bread, several student volunteers said they have worked in partnership with Families First before.

“We’ve done a lot of partnerships with Families First throughout the year,” said St. Aloysius senior Madalyn Burke.

She and junior Adam Eckstein said students are required to volunteer for Family First programs during the school year, but remain involved because of the feeling they get from helping others.

“It started off as something you have to do, and now it’s something you want to do; you want to do these partnerships with Families First,” Madalyn said.

“The interaction is great, you make new friends,” sophomore Anna Lamanilao said, “and it’s just nice to do service for God.”

Adam said he enjoys doing the volunteer work because it gives a feeling of gratification.

“You know you’re actually helping someone, and you can see the impact of your helping; you just feel good because you see you’re helping.”

Working as a volunteer with Families First, Madalyn said, gives her a different perspective on the donations she and other students make.

“Every month, St. Aloysius donates certain items to the food pantry or to a food bank, but this is getting to see the people who eat this food, getting to serve them the food. You get to see the finished product of what you do all year long,” she said.

“And it’s a fun time with classmates. We had seventh through twelfth graders on the trip to day.”

All three students said the program provides them and others a learning experience by watching others.

“You can learn things from everybody,” Madalyn said. “The younger kids can learn things from the older kids and they learn how to interact with people. You see some of the younger kids pick up some of the younger children at Our Daily Bread and play with them.”

And the work at Our Daily Bread gave the volunteers a different perspective on the term “soup kitchen.”

“When you think of a soup kitchen, you think of homeless people,” Madalyn said. “But it wasn’t (just) homeless people. It was people coming in from their jobs with name tags on; it was families, kids who weren’t getting their meals during the summer from school, it was the array of people who were in there.”

“And it was the people who work there,” Adam said. “One was a pastor, some are just people who want to help out; we came — school kids.”

The workers, Madalyn said, included people of all ages.

“You think soup kitchen is a scary place and unwelcoming,” Madalyn said. “It was so welcoming, and there were pictures all over the wall and Bible verses. The people were very friendly; a lot of them thanked us for being there, they were so grateful for us being there.”

It wasn’t a situation of just being everyday business, Adam said.

“They truly enjoyed what they’re doing; they talked to every person,” he said.

“The people were in there making sure the other people were Ok,” Madalyn added.

The Mother Teresa Tuesdays will continue the rest of the summer, the students said, adding future programs will include working at the Vicksburg Community Garden, Good Shepherd Community Center and Warren County Humane Society. It also will be a regular program once school begins.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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