Mary of Nazareth School is living out its mission to serve God and neighbor through a student-led ‘Help Haiti’ campaign. The campaign, spearheaded by eighth grade student, Stevie Orsini, aims to support Haitian relief efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. Orsini and his peers, with the help of school administrators, mobilized to designate Wednesday, October 19 as an “out-of-uniform day” for all students making donations to the ‘Help Haiti’ campaign. The suggested donation amount was set at $2.00 for each child, with all participants encouraged to donate at least $1.00 of their own money. Adding creativity to social concern, students designed a plan to use their “out-of-uniform” privileges to recreate the Haitian flag as a display of solidarity. Students in prekindergarten and 1st grades wore white shirts, kindergarten-4th grades wore red shirts, and 5th-8th grades wore blue shirts. The entire student body assembled on Wednesday morning outside of the school’s athletic building, the Katie Fitzgerald Center, and created a living image of the Haitian flag. Student participation reached every classroom, raising $2,600 in total. Funds will be used to benefit the Haitian mission churches of two of the school’s sponsoring parishes: St. Joseph of Carcasse (mission church of St. Mary’s Parish and Shrine, Barnesville) and Our Lady of the Visitation Gonaives (mission church of Our Lady of the Visitation Parish, Darnestown). Additionally, a portion of the proceeds will be used to purchase book bags and school supplies for ten Haitian children at Christmas through Life Connection Mission, an organization dedicated to bringing hope and opportunities to Haitian children and adults.
The positive impact of Mary of Nazareth School’s ‘Help Haiti’ campaign was felt immediately, as members of school and parish communities expressed their gratitude for the initiative. Parents of first grade student, Abygail Thomas, express their appreciation in a letter to Principal, Michael Friel, “On behalf of our fellow Haitian citizens we would like to convey our deepest gratitude to the community of Mary of Nazareth for this whole-hearted initiative … we are deeply moved by your attention, and will treasure it forever in our heart.” President of Life Connection Mission, Christie Anne Short, says of the student-organized campaign, “Every donation is a valuable one … For those in our community it means that someone cares for them, and I look forward to sharing your students’ love with our friends in Haiti.”
Community outreach and service projects, such as the ‘Help Haiti’ campaign, are an integral part of student life at Mary of Nazareth School, as emphasis is placed on educating the whole child. The school curriculum is designed to facilitate the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical growth of each student. Many of the school’s service projects are sponsored by Mary of Nazareth’s Social Concerns Committee, which aims to provide opportunities for students to fulfill their responsibility to those in need. Mary of Nazareth is a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, serving upper-Montgomery County families with children in prekindergarten through eighth grades. The seven sponsoring parishes of Mary of Nazareth School include Our Lady of the Visitation Parish, St. Mary’s Parish and Shrine, St. Paul Catholic Church, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Mother Seton Catholic Church, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, and Our Lady of the Presentation Catholic Church.