Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Students Use Lent To Help Children With Cancer

Published April 1, 2004

At St. Joseph’s School, the Lenten season and beach vacations go hand-in-hand.

For the past two years, students have spent the Lenten season raising money and collecting items for The Lighthouse Family Retreat, a not-for-profit organization which provides beach vacations in Seaside, Fla., for families with children who are battling cancer.

During these retreats, families can renew their faith and hope in God through games, crafts, devotionals and events like luaus, a talent show and parents’ night out.

It is obvious that the highlight of the school year at St. Joseph’s is quickly becoming the Lighthouse project. As each grade hosts a fund-raising event, a little friendly competition ensues to see which grade can raise the most money.

This year kindergarten and first grade will host a bake sale, third grade is selling chances for a gift certificate to Toys “R” Us, fourth and fifth grades will have an indoor flea market, and the middle school will join forces to organize a carwash and raffle.

Second grade will host the ever-popular “Cougar Mall,” named in honor of the school’s mascot. The Lenten season coincides with their social studies economics unit and the teachers combine these two events. Each student is required to produce a product, create an advertisement for a sales catalogue, and make a store front for his or her product. Parents and students are invited to shop at the “Cougar Mall” where items are priced from 25 cents to $3. Items include hand-made stationery, pet rocks, comic books and jewelry.

The Lighthouse Family Retreat was started four years ago by Melinda Mayton, who now serves as executive director.

As a nurse practitioner, she noticed at the end of a child’s treatment for cancer, the child was usually better but the family was stretched beyond belief. Thus, The Lighthouse Family Retreat was born and to date has served nearly 200 families at 19 retreats. The cost to give this gift to one family is $2,500. This year, St. Joseph’s goal is to raise enough money to send two families on the retreat.

Mark Brown, program director for The Lighthouse Family Retreat, recently addressed St. Joseph’s students and explained that cancer affects the entire family and that it is important to give them time to play, relax and forget about their troubles.

Mayton said that she and the families who benefit from the retreat are grateful to St. Joseph’s School for their support, both past and present.

“Their kindness and generosity have been such a blessing.  Through a lot of hard work and selflessness from the children, parents and teachers, they raised enough money to send two children with cancer and their families to The Lighthouse Family Retreat,” she said. “I only wish those who made it possible could have seen the joy and heard the laughter from the retreat families as we played on the beach, marched in the Seaside Fourth of July parade, and just forgot about cancer for a week. Our ministry would not be possible without special people like those at St. Joseph’s.”