SEATTLE – After reading parts of the state bishops’ pastoral letter on poverty, students at Holy Rosary School in West Seattle were inspired to help nine Skagit Valley farmworker families.
On Holy Thursday, the seventh- and eighth-graders collected diapers and baby wipes, both urgently needed by these families. They prayed for the nine women and two men and collected money for food and gift cards so the families can purchase needed supplies.
Now the students will pray for these parents every day, and when Mother’s Day rolls around they will make personalized greeting cards for each mom — with some cards written in Spanish for the women who don’t speak or read English.
“The thing about this project is that it touches your heart,” said seventh-grader Avery Burke. “It’s sad to see that there are parents who can’t take care of their children, when we are raised in such a privileged environment.”
Reading the pastoral letter, “Who Is My Neighbor?”, the students learned that everyone is their neighbor and poverty has a human face, said Margaret Whetham, Holy Rosary’s junior high religion teacher. “We were asking ourselves, ‘How is God calling us to respond?’”
Father Matthew Oakland, pastor of Seattle’s Holy Rosary Parish, joins seventh- and eighth-graders from the parish school in recognition of their efforts to help expectant parents in the Skagit Valley. The students are also pictured with their teacher, Margaret Whetham, left, Principal Anna Horton and Erin Maguire, area coordinator for Catholic Community Services’ Prepares program. Photo: Courtesy Erin Maguire
The students were inspired to be neighbors to those on the margins, Whetham said. After some research, the students decided to partner with Prepares, a Catholic Community Services pregnancy and parenting program that offers a support system for parents from pregnancy to their child’s fifth birthday.
Prepares linked the students with the expectant moms and dads in the Skagit Valley, providing the adults’ first names, which students said made them feel more connected to the effort.
“This project has impacted me because it shows us that there are people out there who need help, and we can give them what they need, because sometimes other people neglect them,” said seventh-grader Jack Kingston.
Through the outreach effort, classmate Gus Ricard said he learned that building a relationship requires more than giving someone what they need and moving on. “You have to help them as they go on and help them with their struggles, and help them whenever you can,” he said.
“We can’t solve the problem, but we are called to build a relationship,” Whetham added.