By ERIKA ANDERSON, Staff Writer | Published November 9, 2006
On Oct. 27 students and parent volunteers from St. Catherine of Siena School in Kennesaw banded together to make a difference in their greater community.
More than 100 students participated in the elementary school’s “Make-a-Difference Day,” serving at 15 different charities and reaching out to the elderly, the sick, the poor and to the community at large.
At the Atlanta Women’s Day Shelter, 10 students sat at small tables, making arts and crafts projects with children in a brightly colored day care classroom.
Sister Maria Goretti, OP, principal of St. Catherine of Siena, said that the whole school was participating in the annual day of service. Service is an important part of the school’s identity, she said, and it’s imperative that children learn to serve at a young age.
“As we were told to love one another, Christ loved us, literally to death,” she said, looking around the day care room. “Children can learn what gifts and talents they have and know that Christ wants them to share them with others.”
The marathon day began with morning Mass. In addition to the shelter, students served at the St. Vincent de Paul Society office in Chamblee, Habitat for Humanity, MUST Ministries, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home in Atlanta, various nursing homes, and at Scott’s Sprint, a road race to benefit refugee children that was held Oct. 28 by Catholic Charities of Atlanta.
“If we come together as a community of faith, our impact can be greater” than serving as individuals, Sister Maria Goretti said.
Throughout the day, the students also learned about the difference they could make.
“Even when you’re 12, you can still do things to help. You can raise money and do other service projects,” said Vinnie Paglioni, a Boy Scout and altar server. “There are so many people out there who need our help.”
“It’s important to show the community that we can do things to help even when we’re young, even if it’s just picking up a piece of trash,” seventh-grader Mary Ange said, adding that she’d enjoyed her day serving at the shelter. “It was fun today. I really like hanging out with little kids.”
Her mother Barbara served as a driver and chaperone for the students who volunteered at the shelter. A parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Marietta, Ange said that serving others is an essential part of being Catholic.
“It’s part of our faith and who we are. We get so much in the sacraments, and so we have so much to give back,” she said. “For some people, the only face that they apply to Christ will be yours. If you’re just a weekend warrior, and just going to Mass on the weekend and not serving, you’re not really sharing your faith. It truly is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ.”
In a press release, St. Catherine of Siena Church pastor, Father Brendan Doyle, expressed his gratitude to the many parent volunteers who helped throughout the day.
“I am truly proud of our adult volunteers. They have identified those in need and have focused their own time and talent to give our children the opportunity to experience discipleship service in action. There is a real need to teach our young people the beauty of service,” he said. “I hope this is just the first stepping stone of what we can do for others as we come together as a community of faith and that this can become a model for more initiatives and discipleship programs in the future.”