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December 10, 2017
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RC schools focus on hospitality

A student from Presentation College, San Fernando, helps prepare packages for the poor at the Living Water Community’s Nazareth House on December 5. In the background is teacher David Bissoon. Photo courtesy a parent, Zobida Apping.

By Lara

Catholic primary and secondary schools added disaster relief to their projects for 2017 helping persons locally and abroad.  This month, young persons from Catholic schools will share the spirit of the Christmas season.

On Tuesday (December 12), pupils of La Brea RC engage in a Christmas visit to the Helena Charles’ Home for the Aged. The school has partnered with the home since December 2011, and each term, classes volunteer to distribute food hampers, and toiletries, and the pupils spend time entertaining the residents. This time they will also be sharing a meal. “That’s a high point,” said Principal Laura Chen.

Twenty-five hampers were donated through the St Patrick Education Drive for persons impacted by Tropical Storm Bret of the St Patrick East Zones. La Brea RC also gave 160 cases of water to Dominica via the T&T Coast Guard.  Twelve hampers were prepared for persons flooded out in October.

Chen said while there are families in the community that are in need themselves there was still generosity. The school rallies to help pupils in need, and prepares hampers of food and drinks to assist five needy families on the last day of every term. All items are donated by pupils.

A child from Tortola was admitted to First Year and was assisted with uniforms, books etc. Also welcoming a foreign pupil was Mt Lambert RC which enrolled a boy from Dominica in Standard Three.  This was in response to the Prime Minister’s  call for Dominica nationals to be welcomed, Archbishop Joseph Harris’ call for hospitality , “and from my own heart to help as best as we could”, said Kathleen Warner-Lall, principal. Praying for victims of disasters in the region was included in the recitation of the rosary and at monthly Masses at the school.

During the Lenten Season, pupils were encouraged to sacrifice some of their spending money with fundraising sales supplementing the pupils’ contributions. The money collected went towards buying school items for pupils.

“Children helping children, and this time to help their own peers without knowing,” Warner-Lall said. Staff contributes to a fund for needy pupils and Mt Lambert RC also collaborated with community groups to assist the needy.

This month instead of distributing meals to the homeless on Harris Promenade which is done every term, Presentation College, San Fernando is organising care packages consisting of basic medications, toiletries, towels and blankets.

The school usually rolls out various projects during the academic year, for example, The Heart and Garment Project and treating primary school pupils in remote areas. This year 100 pupils of Granville RC will be treated to lunch, snack bags and gifts.

New this year was ‘The Noah Project’, a response to the flooding in June from Tropical Storm Bret and in October from the tropical depression. Non-perishable food items, water, mattresses, bleach; disinfectants were collected for distribution to communities including Penal, Barrackpore, Woodland and Sangre Grande. Approximately $35,000 worth of items were distributed enlisting the help of persons owning trucks and local government representatives who were able to identify residents most in need.

The Caribbean Outreach Project raised $10,000 for the Dominica relief, which was handed over to The Living Water Community. The money was raised from gate receipts from the school’s first Secondary School Football League Premier Division game, the collection from the college’s opening Mass for the new academic year, and a special collection in the morning assembly. The College is willing to assist students from Dominica and is facilitating one student pending approval of Immigration Division and the Ministry of Education.

Presentation College Principal Dexter Mitchell said even when Archbishop Harris made the call for schools to get involved and have hospitality projects this was “nothing new” for Presentation. “I think they get a sense of giving back, we always encourage that,” Mitchell said.

On December 5, Form 1 students were going to Nazareth House to help members of the Living Water Community pack hampers.

Today (December 10) students of Presentation College, Chaguanas, Reach Out and Make A Smile (ROMAS) charitable fraternity will host a fun day for the children of six orphanages, organising transport, meals and a series of sporting and leisure activities. This is the second year for this initiative.

Presentation Chaguanas has “adopted” the Brasso RC Primary. A group of students from the school’s PALS Charitable Organisation/ Communio Students’ organisation will on Thursday (December 14) bring festive cheer and presents for all the students. They will share Christmas lunch with staff and pupils. A musical interlude and a motivational talk are also carded.

Archbishop Joseph Harris issued a Pastoral Letter for Lent titled Return to Hospitality. In it he stated “…since God is Love, to practise hospitality is to act like God and so be most truly human”.