Each year our seventh grade Applied Christianity: Ethics and Moral Living Christian Education students develop an almsgiving program for our school, St. Mark’s Cathedral School in Shreveport, Louisiana.
We began by learning the biblical works of mercy and reflecting on world problems through a Christian lens as articulated in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. This year we incorporated a deep study of local, national, and global nonprofit organizations who respond to the cry of the poor in merciful and significant ways. Students used Charity Navigator to learn about 501(c) 3 organizations. The Deacon came to our class to help us learn how we might listen to God speaking to our hearts and to discern a ministry to which we may be called. Students worked with partners to develop a campus-wide marketing campaign and social media venues to raise funds for a charity of the heart, creating box floats in Louisiana style parked in a central walking path for faculty and students throughout the day. Floats this year included:
- Soccer without Borders
- Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance
- Mission Uganda
- Alzheimer’s Research Foundation
- Alex’s Lemonade Stand
- Natural Disaster Search Dog Foundation
- Episcopal Relief and Development: Rainwater Purification Catch System
- Interfaith Pharmacy
- Autism Speaks
- International Rescue Committee: Send a Girl to School
- CASA Volunteers for Youth Justice: Board No More
- Step Forward for North Louisiana
The class decided to adopt as our theme the Dean’s float, which will support the Cathedral Mission trip this summer to Uganda. Our Canon taught us that in Luganda, “Essubbi” means hope, and that hope begins when we run out of our own options and turn to God to save us. As Psalm 121 speaks so well, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from when cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” The class led Middle School Chapel and we prayed for our hearts to be open and generous.
Students held a kick-off for Soccer without Borders to support immigrant and refugee children and a lemonade stand at lunch to support childhood cancer. They also completed a project for the Rutherford House, a home for hope with troubled teenagers. Our class welcomed guest speakers from the InterFaith Pharmacy and Common Ground to learn about their ministries in the Shreveport-Bossier Community. Our Lower School Christian Education teacher took her students to the Parade of Hope and introduced them to the various opportunities to give.
Student Council was busy as well. They sponsored “Empty Bowls” for the NW Louisiana Food Bank. Middle School students made offerings to paint bowls which were fired and given at a major fundraiser for the hungry. Student Council also collaborated with Deacon Lois to buy new shoes for the women of Holy Cross Hope House. National Junior Honor Society officers decided to collect “Soles for Souls;” new and gently used shoes for local agencies.
The Service Leadership Club continued their hands on monthly work at Noel Food Pantry, Maggie Lee’s Clothes Closet, Common Ground, Highland Blessing Supper, ARC of Caddo Bossier, and the Veterans Home. They collected a load of cereal for the poor. They also delivered coloring books and crayons for WK South Pediatrics and made Easter baskets for the Child Life Department at University Healthcare.
The faculty has been busy praying for and reaching out to support school families who are bereaved or who experienced serious illness or misfortune.
As we walked the Lenten journey of hope, we made a commitment to walk the way of the cross, “worthy of the calling, bearing with one another in love. For there is one body and in one Spirit, just as we are called in one hope.” (Eph. 4) Now we look to God to carry our humble offerings to the throne of grace that we might one day know the eternal hope to which we are called in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Judy Kane, D.Min., is chaplain at St. Mark’s Cathedral School in Shreveport, Louisiana.