“Food for Families” Engages First Graders at St. John Vianney in Mission
During Advent, both first grade classes at St. John Vianney Parish School wanted to do something that would reach beyond their own communities, beyond their borders, and help other children and families who may be struggling. Enter the “Food for Families” program through the Working Boys Center (WBC) based in Quito, Ecuador. The WBC is an organization that serves 400 families of working children providing them with education, meals, Christian formation, leadership development and a chance to leave poverty behind. This year, the “Food for Families” Program offers an opportunity for students here in the United States to connect with their sisters and brothers in Ecuador by learning about them, praying for them, and collecting much needed funds to help support them.
This project was a natural connection for St. John Vianney as they have been involved with the WBC for some time. Many of their former students go down and volunteer for a year or two after graduating from college and in a few months, the Associate Pastor, Fr. Bogacki, will travel to visit the center with a group of parishioners. When the classes first began the project, each student took home one picture of an Ecuadorian family from the WBC to hang on their refrigerator. Each night they say a prayer for the family and the other families of the center. They will do ‘extra’ chores to try and earn money for the project. Both teachers stress that these are considered extra chores and not the ones that mom and dad usually require of them. This makes earning the money a true sacrifice and hard work enabling the students to know that they are actively participating in making a difference. One girl even donated the $1 she received from the tooth fairy!
The students are really engaged! First grade teacher Courtney Albright comments that her students will look at the pictures of the children at the WBC and have a variety of reactions, from saying how they are just as tall as they are and they also lost their two front teeth to the observation about the poor living conditions and wonder how some of the families have money for food on the weekends when they are not receiving a meal at the center. She often finds them looking at the globe in their classroom asking questions about the weather in Ecuador and what language the children speak. By raising awareness of how other children live around the world and that ultimately we are all responsible for each other, these children are living the Gospel message of love, justice and compassion.
After only four weeks, the first graders raised $616.13 and are able to support more than 35 families! This truly is a blessing not only for the families at the Working Boys Center who struggle day to day to support themselves but for the children of St. John Vianney and their families who have now developed a relationship with families thousands of miles away- truly, this is a Family-of-Families!
For more information on the Working Boys Center, a Family of Families, please visit www.workingboyscenter.org
(Thank you to Courtney Albright for story information and photos)
Students at St. Anthony's Also Rise to Challenge of Supporting Working Boys Center
Over 150 students in the fourth grade classes at St. Anthony School in Milwaukee raised $526.67 by collecting pennies, nickels, and dimes during Advent to support Ecuadorian families who attend the Working Boys Center in Quito, Ecuador! This is an amazing amount which is much needed to help provide meals, education and faith formation to these families. Gretchen Ousterling, one of the fourth grade teachers, spent two years as a lay missioner working with children and families at the WBC from 2000-2002. As an educator, she is now passing on her passion for serving our global community to her students by demonstrating the importance of reaching out to our sisters and brothers around the world.
(Thank you to Gretchen Ousterling for story and photos)