On Tuesday, April 30, all Bishop Luers High School students and faculty took a break from their normal school morning activities to give back to their community. The service-learning initiative is called Sodalitas. This is the fourth year for the event.
When participating in Sodalitas, students meet in groups of 18-20 with representatives from every grade level. The student groups are peer-led by faculty-selected student leaders and explore social justice issues, plan service activities and contribute to ongoing community needs. These half-day events occur twice a year, in the fall and spring. In the fall, students perform service projects around their school, and in the spring, they give back to the local community.
Many of the 25 organizations at which the students volunteered had outdoor projects planned for them, but the cold and rainy weather brought many inside for the day. Catholic Charities, Christ Child Society, Community Harvest Food Bank, Franciscan Center and several area Catholic parishes received assistance from the student groups. Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, the Project Linus warehouse, Saint Anne Retirement Communities were also popular service locations.
Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana had students, under the leadership of seniors Abbey Grabner and Noah Green, receive a brief tour of the center. The students then helped label envelopes for an upcoming mailing of the organization’s newsletter.
Students at the Project Linus warehouse, led by Cheyenne Estoppenhagen and Joshua Dippold, began working on blankets during their at-school Sodalitas meetings, beginning in December. They brought 10 completed blankets to the warehouse and worked on others while there. The blankets will be donated to local hospitals to comfort young patients. Student leaders for next year’s Project Linus already have been selected and are interested in carrying on the tradition of the project.
For Saint Anne Retirement Communities in Fort Wayne, the students helped at nearby St. Joachim Building, which serves as the home offices for the retirement communities in both Fort Wayne and Huntington. During past Sodalitas days they tidied up the grounds by pulling and bagging weeds for disposal or played bingo and other games with the residents. This year, the students hand-carried an estimated 200 boxes of files and papers from one floor to the other so that the papers could be shredded.
Senior Saint Anne Sodalitas leader Myk’Angel Gaston said that serving others is a large part of the student body’s Catholic identity. She said by “using teamwork and determination, our team was glad to help carry all of those boxes.” The Sodalitas events over the last four years have helped her grow as an individual and learn to put others first. Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia, is where she will study mass media communications later this fall, she said, and she chose the university in part because of its community service outreach. That value was seeded and cultivated while attending Bishop Luers.
“To our knowledge, public schools do not have an organized day like Sodalitas for community service,” Gaston said. Maybe other schools will create such a day for their community in the future.”
A living rosary was prayed in the school gymnasium to conclude the day of service.
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