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St. Andrew students fill backpacks for children in St. Lucia, St. Vincent

By Staff | Jun 6, 2011

The students at St. Andrew Catholic School donated 71 backpacks filled with supplies to help children who live on the islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent through the Kids 4 Others Mission Backpack program.
Other Catholic schools in the Diocese of Venice, from Naples to Sarasota, also participated in the program this year.
AnneMarie Marron, faculty representative for the Holy Childhood Association,
said the 71 backpacks were picked up Monday morning to be sent to the islands.
Principal Sister Elizabeth Meegan said the project was wonderful because the children had to go home and work with their family to bring items to the school to fill the backpacks.
“It was very much a hands-on project that the children really realized they were benefiting other students,” Meegan said.
She said the concrete project benefited the children at St. Andrew Catholic Church as well as the children who will receive the backpacks in St. Lucia.
“We believe that it is an essential component of Catholic education to help the children see that they are a part of a world community and all people are our brothers and sisters,” Meegan said.
She said the Kids 4 Other Mission Backpack program was a unique opportunity for the students and it fit nicely into the various other projects that they do throughout the year.
Every year the children are introduced to a different project through the Holy Childhood Association, which has been in existence for at least 50 years. The association is about children helping children.
Marron said children who live in St. Lucia and St. Vincent are not allowed to go to school unless they have school supplies, along with a uniform that costs $3.
“It is more applicable for children to help out,” Marron said about the backpack program.
A packet was sent home with each child in February to explain what the project entailed. Marron said the packet included a “promissory note” that the student signed stating that he/she will donate the backpack he or she used all year filled with school supplies.
Each grade level, kindergarten through eighth grade, had its own list of supplies that the student could donate. The backpacks included the age, gender and grade of the child donating the supplies, along with a list of all the items inside.
A note of encouragement and hope from each child was also placed in the backpack as well.
Marron said the child also had the option of including his or her first name and school address in the backpack, so a pen pal arrangement can be formed between the students.
The backpacks will be supervised along their journey to St. Lucia and St. Vincent by the Diocese of Venice high school youth groups, which will deliver the backpacks to the students.
The backpacks began to trickle in during the week of May 23, during the last week of school at St. Andrew Catholic School.
Although the project seemed to start off slowly with student participation, Meegan said it mushroomed a bit towards the end. She said some of the students who were not able to donate backpacks contributed materials to help them fill some of the backpacks.