The Christmas season inspires students to serve the community

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The Christmas season inspires students to serve the community

Children from the Carver Center came to Sacred Heart in 2017 to receive student-donated presents from Santa Claus.

Children from the Carver Center came to Sacred Heart in 2017 to receive student-donated presents from Santa Claus.

Ms. Rachel Zurheide

Children from the Carver Center came to Sacred Heart in 2017 to receive student-donated presents from Santa Claus.

Ms. Rachel Zurheide

Ms. Rachel Zurheide

Children from the Carver Center came to Sacred Heart in 2017 to receive student-donated presents from Santa Claus.

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To commemorate this holiday season, the Sacred Heart Greenwich community fulfills Goal Three of the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria, “a social awareness which impels to action,” with numerous service initiatives in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Mrs. Kerry Bader, Director of Upper School Social Justice and Service, and Mrs. Maureen Crowley, Upper School Theology Teacher, believe that getting involved in community service reminds students and faculty that spreading love and kindness connects to the true meaning of Christmas. 

Mrs. Crowley discussed the importance of learning how to love and serve one another, which students can fully experience through community service. 

“Making the world a better place was foremost in the mind and heart of Jesus,” Mrs. Crowley said.  “He has left the work of making the world a better place for us.  As His followers, we continue what he began as we strive to make the Kingdom of God a reality here on earth.”

Sacred Heart students donate supermarket gift cards to to Casa de Esperanza, an organization operated by the New York branch of Sisters of Charity.  Courtesy of scny.org

The Upper School mainly works with two organizations during the holiday season.  Each Upper School advisory contributes supermarket gift cards to Casa de Esperanza, an organization operated by the Sisters of Charity of New York.  The organization provides a welcoming safe haven for new or undocumented immigrants and offers English language classes, childcare, food, clothing, legal help, and citizenship preparation, according to scny.org.  

In many cases, people who live below the poverty line are unable to apply for Federal Food Assistance programs due to their immigration statuses.  The gift cards that Sacred Heart students donate to Casa de Esperanza help them to afford food for their families.

The second organization that Sacred Heart provides assistance to during the Christmas season is the Carver Center, a community-based organization that is dedicated to assisting citizens in their community and helping them become financially independent, according to carvercenter.org.

Sacred Heart partners with the Carver Center to provide gifts of toys and clothing for the young children who are part of the Head Start Program, a federal program that helps low-income children build a foundation to be successful in school by improving their social, cognitive, and emotional development, according to benefits.gov.  It is a Sacred Heart tradition for the Carver Center children to come to Sacred Heart and receive wrapped gifts, donated by students, from Santa Claus. 

Mrs. Bader plays a large role in organizing Christmas service programs at Sacred Heart.  She explained how participation in community service offers students and faculty a new perspective by connecting them to Sacred Heart’s Goal Three. 

[Service] provides opportunities for our students to interact in a mutually beneficial way with populations with whom they would not regularly come in contact,” Mrs. Bader said.  “This helps students understand the real challenges that many people face as they try to feed their families and succeed in school.” 

Children from the Carver Center receive gifts from Santa Claus in 2017.  Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

Mrs. Bader described how community service during the holiday season can also connect to Sacred Heart’s Goal Four, “a building of the community as a Christian value.” 

“Giving back to the community at any time of year is beneficial, but at Christmas, it is particularly fitting,” Mrs. Bader said.  “The greatest gift ever received was the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  At Christmas, we can echo the great gift of salvation by helping others.”

Mrs. Crowley emphasizes the importance of serving the community throughout the entire year.

“Community service is indeed very rewarding.  It is what we are called to do and where we find our deepest purpose and fulfillment,” Mrs. Crowley said.  “The Christmas season puts the spotlight on reaching out to others and striving to bring joy to all those we encounter.  However, we must remember to continue this service through the New Year because that is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide