Published March 9, 2017
ATLANTA—St. Pius X High School has a service requirement asked of each student, a program the school calls the Works of Mercy. Each year, every student must complete at least five service projects, three of which need to be corporal works of mercy as given by Christ in Matthew 25. Typically, service opportunities are offered during the school year, but rarely for the whole school.
On Friday, March 3, the entire student body worked together in a school-wide service project for the organization Rise Against Hunger, assembling and packing 35,000 meals to be sent around the world to feed malnourished school children. This kick-off project for the Lenten season is a first of its kind in that it involved all of the students and may become a regular event.
The students got involved in doing this school-wide project when the peer mentor coordinator (a program called Lion Leaders), Alana Peterson McJimpsey, brought the idea to the St. Pius Campus Ministry. She had previously worked with Stop Hunger Now—now called Rise Against Hunger—and thought it would be a great initiative for the SPX students.
The administrative team loved the idea, and as the group was brainstorming ways to raise money to pay for the supplies, the Senior Council of the Class of 2017 took up the cause. They decided they wanted their class gift to the school to be giving all a chance to do their part in ending world hunger. In conjunction with the Student Council, the Senior Council donated the money they brought in through their fundraisers to make this project happen.
Organization for the project came from Campus Ministry, comprised of the director of Campus Ministry, Abby Bettencourt, Lion Leader coordinator McJimpsey, and school chaplain Father Michael Silloway.
The Rise Against Hunger staff arrived at the school March 3 at 7 a.m. to set up the three main stations of activity in the school gym: funnels for filling the meal bags with soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, a vitamin and mineral supplement, and rice; scales for ensuring each bag is appropriately filled and heat sealers to ensure freshness in shipment; and boxing.
The students came to the gym during their theology classes, ready to sanitize their hands and don a hairnet. Michael Ashleigh, of Rise Against Hunger, gave a brief presentation of the mission and delivered instructions on the meal packaging process. Then, as energetic music pumped through the gym, the students assembled, weighed, sealed, and packaged the meals.
The 35,000 meals made during this day will most likely go to the Alliance for Children Everywhere in Zambia, Africa. The meals are given to schools to help not only meet their nutritional needs, but also entice children to come and receive an education, thus giving them more opportunity to break the cycle of poverty in their communities.
Father Silloway said, “Our students and teachers really enjoyed the day … they know they are making a difference. When one of our teachers came into the gym and saw everyone working, knowing that these meal packs were going to be game changers in the lives of kids on the other side of the world, she couldn’t help but let a tear of joy break free.”
He added that the students themselves didn’t want this project to count as one of their five required projects.
As senior class president Sarah Marshall said, “We want to do it just because it’s the right thing to do.”
Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable, mobilizing the necessary resources to end hunger by 2030. For more information about the program, visit www.riseagainsthunger.org.