Catholic schools around the Diocese of St. Petersburg partnered with Somebody Cares Tampa Bay for Carefest 2016.
Students joined thousands of volunteers across Pinellas, Hillsborough, Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties to take part in the week devoted to service, from Sept. 17 to Sept. 24.
At the same time, the diocese celebrated “The Week of Caring in the Year of Mercy.”
During Carefest, schools throughout the diocese engaged in various efforts to extend themselves beyond the Catholic community, said Mark Majeski, associate superintendent of schools for the Office of Catholic Schools and Centers for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
Students at Mother Teresa of Calcutta School in Lutz donated 15 violins to be used by students at St. Joseph Catholic School, and held a school supply drive to help other schools in the diocese.
Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School in Spring Hill had a first responders’ week and donated canned goods and baby items, collecting enough to fill more than four large containers, to benefit Catholic Charities.
Students at Saint Anthony Catholic School in San Antonio took part in a number of activities.
Children made thank you cards and banners, and sang for first responders.
“We thanked them for the sacrifices that they are making for our safety. We are totally grateful for their service, because it is truly a call of faith and courage. They do a lot of selfless work for us, for our safety,” said Sister Alice Ottapurackal, the school’s principal.
The children also made “survival kits” for the first responders.
They gave 105 survival kits to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and 19 to the local firefighters.
Each kit contained:
- A prayer card for first responders. For police officers, a holy card of their patron saint, Saint Michael the Archangel; for firefighters, a holy card of their patron saint, St. Florian
Each kit also contained a variety of candies, along with an explanation for first responders. Those were:
- Life Savers: To remind you of the many times you have been one
- Starburst: For the burst of energy you need
- PayDay: Because you’re not doing it for the money
- Paper clip: To hold it all together
- Hershey Kisses: Because you deserve them from all
- Gum: To help your unit stick together
- Tootsie Roll: To help you roll with the punches
- Peppermint Patty: To help you keep your cool
- Snickers: To remind you to have a sense of humor
- Mounds: For the mounds of courage you need
Other good works performed by Saint Anthony School students included donating personal grooming supplies for the migrant community, donating supplies for a baby pantry, and donating kits for children at Sunrise Center.
“This is the Year of Mercy, so we wanted to do something special — caring for the poor, as well as caring for people who do good things for us,” Ottapurackal said.
When the police officers and firefighters visited the school, it offered a chance for children to learn more about the services that first responders provide to the community, she said.
And, the children were able to express their gratitude.
“So we are giving and receiving,” the principal said. “Children are learning how community works. A lot of good things are happening in this world.”
Published September 28, 2016