Wednesday, 24 August 2016

St. Benedict Students Experience Service

Written by Alicra Pastula
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Student's from St. Benedict Parish and Verde Villas Student's from St. Benedict Parish and Verde Villas

What does service mean to you? St. Benedict’s Jr. High group partnered with Catholic Charities to discover their definition of service. Twenty students spent four days visiting several of our programs and learning about the needs in our community. They learned that although they are small, they are mighty and can truly make a big difference in their community.

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Poverty in the U.S.

On the first day, the kids participated in activities to learn about poverty in the United States (U.S.). They played a smarties game where they were given 15 smarties. They had to stretch their “smarties budget” as far as they could to support their family. Needless to say, when an emergency arose, the kids were not only surprised but frustrated that their entire budget was thrown off.  This is the reality for many families in the U.S. today, yet some of the kids had no idea. In order to help those in poverty, they all pitched in and donated canned food the homless in Cottonwood.  

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Veteran Homelessness

The second day, students visited the MANA House, a transitional housing program for veterans experiencing homelessness. The students were given a tour of the facility. They learned how even those brave enough to fight for our country sometimes need a helping hand. It was not long before the kids started writing thinking of you cards for our veterans. They thanked them for their courage and some even included inspirational poems that had been in their families for generations.   

Serving Those in Need

On the third day, the children visited Verde Villas, our affordable housing community. They learned that it doesn’t take much to make someone happy. Service can look differently for every individual and sometimes sharing your time is all that is needed to make someone’s day. Students participated in a scavenger hunt, ate popsicles, and played board games with our residents.  

On their last and fourth day, the kids donated hygiene items and made blessing bags for our children aging out of foster care. They had the opportunity to visit our unaccompanied minors, who although were their same age, had been through some serious challenges. St. Benedict’s youth group did not hesitate to introduce themselves and most of them even did it in Spanish! 

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Reflecting on Service

Once they had competed all of the activities, the kids had time to write a reflection on what they had found to be most meaningful. It was then that it became apparent that what they had experienced would stay with them forever. Some shared about their own struggles and how they themselves had been adopted or in foster care. Other’s shared what had impacted them the most about the last four days.

One of the kids wrote, “I see how poverty is real. It’s now, and we can stop it. We can feed the hungry; clothe the naked and other Bible things. I feel humbled by this. I did not realize poverty was this big. I feel very lucky, but others aren’t as lucky. This is why I want to help out. No one deserves to be in poverty. I pray for everyone in poverty.”

Alcira PastulaAlcira Pastula in the parish and community engament coordinator at Catholic Charities. She helps bridge the gap between local parishes, community groups and those in need. When not working, Alcira enjoys spending time with her family and mentoring.

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