School gathers supplies for mission

Sacred Heart Catholic School students in New Smyrna Beach gather more than 800 school supply items for sister diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic during the first week of school. Eighth-grader Lily is pictured with items initially collected for her “Boxes of Love” project. (COURTESY)

NEW SMYRNA BEACH| The school year has barely started and outreach at Sacred Heart Catholic School in New Smyrna Beach is off and running. Eighth-grader Lily and fellow student, Ray, rallied students, resulting in a bountiful supply that will equip their brothers and sisters in our sister Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic.

“It is very important for our 8th graders to understand the Redemptorist charism of our school which is to care for the poor and the most abandoned,” said Maria Bilodeau, religion teacher at Sacred Heart.

The school drive took place over several days. Lily, who is also a Confirmation candidate, started collecting school supplies last summer to give to local schools for her “Box of Love” project—“allowing kids in our community to express themselves and build confidence through art and have new supplies for school,” said her mother, Kat. Lily’s plan was to distribute locally to schools, homeless shelters, and hospitals. Kat noted, “We have distributed a couple special boxes to one of our own students recently in the hospital and one to a cheerleader who was recently diagnosed with an illness.”

When Bilodeau asked for donations from families for the sister diocese, Lily refocused her energies and helped lead the collection. Flyers, posters and social media got the word out. Fellow students gathered some 800 notebooks, pencils, markers, colored pencils, erasers, crayons, glue sticks, rulers, scissors, and other assorted supplies. She also donated 100 popsicles to give to two classes who donated the most supplies. The second and eighth grade classes were the winners. Lily is continuing with a second collection for her local community.

The important lesson on charity harkens to the Scripture from Matt 25: 31-46. “I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison, and you visited me.” Catholics are called to be their brother’s keeper. As St. Ambrose said, “If you have two shirts in your closet, one belongs to you and the other to the man with no shirt.” Sacred Heart students took that to heart.

Bilodeau noted, “Truly, we are a very blessed school community because my students and families who are so kind and generous are always willing to help students from our sister diocese.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic September 04, 2019