Getting students to think outside the circle

November 23, 2008|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,Special to The Baltimore Sun

As outreach coordinator of John Carroll School, Sister Maryanne Zakreski is always looking for ways to get students to think about people outside their circle of friends and family.

With that in mind, the school holds a canned-food drive each year that involves the entire student body, she said.

"We want children to learn to think about someone other than themselves," she said. "We want them to see that they can make a difference."

To participate, the John Carroll students spent four weeks, starting at the end of October, collecting canned soups, tuna, fruit, vegetables and other goods.

The items collected will be donated to Manna House, a Harford County soup kitchen that is associated with the Bel Air United Methodist Church. Manna House provides food for anyone in need, Zakreski said.

As an added incentive and to help motivate the kids to collect canned goods, the school holds a competition to see which homeroom class can collect the most items. The classroom that donates the most items will be treated to breakfast. To date, a total of more than 500 cans of food have been collected, she said.

In addition to the canned-food drive, the students are participating in a program to provide aid to hurricane victims in Haiti.

Through the program, which was initiated by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the students have been asked to collect light clothing, shoes, sneakers, and school supplies. The donated items will be sent to the archdiocese, which will then send them to Haiti. So far, the students have collected 12 boxes of items.

Participating in programs such as these helps the students feel good about themselves, Zakreski said.

"When the students collect food and see how it helps other people, they are left with such a feeling of satisfaction," she said. "I collect service hours on the students all year long. This kind of project builds their self-confidence and their spirit."

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