|Sacred Heart Academy students are embracing a spirit of giving this Advent, helping families in need put presents under the Christmas tree and also helping feed the hungry.
The Sacred Heart Parish & Academy community in Grand Rapids hosted a Christmas Market on Saturday, December 10, 2016. The gymnasium was decorated like a Christmas wonderland and filled with brand-new toys which had been donated and offered for sale for no more than $3 apiece.
The Sacred Heart Academy gymnasium decorated for the Christmas Market.
To stock the Christmas Market, students were encouraged to give up items on their own Christmas lists and donate them; they also went shopping in groups to supply the market with items they had wanted for themselves. Parishioners and local businesses also supported the effort, donating gifts and their time for decorating the gym and wrapping presents.
Thirty families in need, recommended by local organizations, were then invited to a shop for their children’s presents.
“The Christmas Market is a unique work of charity. Like other gift drives, it provides Christmas gifts for those children who might otherwise not receive them," Headmaster Sean Maltbie said. "But more importantly, it provides the parents of those children with the opportunity to purchase those gifts themselves and experience the spiritual joy that comes with being the giver of the gift in the first instance.”
In an additional effort embracing a spirit of giving, Sacred Heart Academy students raised $1,000 for God’s Kitchen, a Catholic Charities West Michigan program which serves hot meals at noontime every day in the Heartside Neighborhood of Grand Rapids.
Students raised the money in a grueling battle of “penny wars,” in which each class competed to fill their jar with the most pennies during the month of November. All other coins and bills in a jar counted against the pennies, though, so students attempted to fill their jar with pennies while sabotaging other jars with bills and different coins.
Sacred Heart Academy students and headmaster Sean Maltbie (right) present a check to God's Kitchen program supervisor Jeff Hoyh (left).
Students presented a check to God’s Kitchen Program Supervisor Jeff Hoyh during an assembly on Wednesday, December 14.
“It’s my favorite when kids do this: starting young and knowing giving back goes so far," said Hoyh. "It’s my favorite part of my job."
Hoyh said $1,000 allows God's Kitchen to buy roughly 8,000 pounds of food and provide meals for two months.
Sacred Heart Academy serves more than 150 full-time students in preschool through high school and more than 120 part-time students in Classical Enrichment Courses from 2nd grade through high school. Learn more here.