For two days in January, nearly 750 Catholic school students celebrated Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy by packing 108,864 meals for children in need. Students from 11 schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis traveled to Notre Dame Academy in Minnetonka and All Saints Catholic School in Lakeville to participate in the service event.
“It’s the Year of Mercy, and one of the corporal works of mercy is feeding the hungry,” said Carol Margarit, principal of All Saints. “So that’s what we’re doing here by packing all these meals that can be sent to those who are less fortunate and who need this nutrition to survive.”
The schools partnered with Feed My Starving Children MobilePack, the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence, and parent volunteers to hand pack meals and give back to those in need.
“I think I feel like I don’t do enough service, and this is a great opportunity,” Joelle McMahon, Notre Dame Academy parent, said of her decision to volunteer for the event. “I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Feed My Starving Children, and my sister-in-law happened to be working here as well, so it was a great motivator to get out this morning.”
Students watched videos of real children who had benefited from meals packed through Feed My Starving Children. They also learned that each meal they packed contained a day’s worth of nutrients to give malnourished children the sustenance needed to survive.
“It makes me feel really good knowing that I could change someone’s life or help save their life,” said Liv Giessinger, an eighth-grader at Notre Dame Academy.
Jeanne Sharp, religion teacher at Notre Dame Academy, also integrated a spiritual work of mercy, praying for the living and the dead, into the day of service.
“In religion class today, we’ll pray the rosary to support this. As the other schools are working, we’re going to be upstairs praying. So there’s the spiritual aspect of it, too,” Sharp said. “We can be in service through prayer as well.”
A great community-building activity for Catholic schools, the MobilePack provided students an opportunity to come together and make a difference.
“It feels like we’re all just digging through our day until we begin service. And it’s when we begin service that we begin to become a community,” Sharp said. “When you wake up in the morning, you can only do so much with your own hands, but when you join together with other people, other schools, then you can do a lot.”