The May recipient is St. Frances Cabrini School student body for their fund raising Penny Drive sponsored by the eighth grade class to help fund their St. Vincent de Paul conference.
Each year, Sue Petty’s eighth grade class organizes this weeklong effort. The challenge goes out to all the other grades and the competition begins. But there is one rule – only pennies can be donated. Stephanie Van Leuven, principal of St. Frances Cabrini explains that collection buckets are placed in each classroom and the kids bring in their finds – under the sofa cushion, in between the seats of the car and spare change receptacles throughout the house. They bring in sandwich bags full of pennies, often with scribbled notes directing, “This is for the poor people.” Students bring in their banks and empty them out. Many give their allowances and savings they had intended to use to buy something for themselves. The contest becomes serious. Challenges are made between classes. Since only pennies can be collected a silver coin found in the bucket causes a deduction in the totals. Classes sneak “silver bombs” into each other’s collection buckets. Friendly “retaliation” then ensues. When the week is finished the eight graders track and tally the totals. This year a penny turned into 100,300 pennies or $1003. The power of a penny turned into the power of working together for a common goal. What a lesson to learn so early in life.
The students gave this money to their St. Vincent de Paul Conference. This Catholic organization’s, affiliated with local parishes, purpose is to reach out to the needy. The Cabrini Conference serves the Lakewood and Tillicum areas. They help with rent and utilities assistance, furniture, household goods, food, gas, clothing and visits to those that are lonely and despaired. They receive referrals from United Way, LASA and other community agencies. Their funding is provided solely by the generosity of their parishioners and the fund raising events and projects of St. Frances Cabrini School. The Penny Drive couldn’t have come at a better time as the Conference was nearly out of funds. They are now back in business providing needed critical assistance to the Lakewood community.
The generosity of the students at St. Frances Cabrini isn’t limited to the Penny Drive. Each Christmas they help St. Vincent de Paul provide food and gift boxes to 75 area families. Cheryl Lehman, the president of the Cabrini St. Vincent de Paul, says that the kids bring such an energetic enthusiasm to this project. They collect hygiene products, food and gifts, become personal shoppers, and fill the boxes in preparation for delivery. Last November they had a pie drive, a pizza sale and a food drive. They had a walk-a-thon to earn money for Katrina victims collecting $3000. Last year, the eighth grade graduating class gave $900 to St. Vincent de Paul. These kids never stop. Recently they held a fund raising carnival for St. Vincent de Paul earning over $1,600.
This spirit of giving and of sacrifice is evident even in the early grade levels. One example of this spirit is evident in Gabrielle Roarty, a second grader at St. Frances Cabrini. Gabrielle was having a party for her eighth birthday. As she and her mother were making plans for the party she decided that instead of presents given to her, she wanted her guests to bring “food for the poor”. The party guests enjoyed shopping for this purpose and they ended up with five grocery bags that were given to a large family in Lakewood. Gabrielle as well as the entire student body of St. Frances Cabrini School have learned at a very early age another valuable lesson-it’s in the giving that we receive.
The power of a penny-The power of teamwork-The power of giving-and the power of children to make a difference.
That is why the student body of St. Frances School with many thanks to their families, teachers and principal for their ongoing support, are receiving the traveling Red Wagon, a symbol of Lakewood’s Promise of people pulling their weight to help the youth in Lakewood. They exemplify our fifth promise – providing youth with opportunities to serve in their community. Lakewood’s Promise mission is to mobilize people from every sector of life in Lakewood to build the character and competence of our youth by fulfilling these Five Promises:
– Caring Adults & Provide ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors and coaches
– Safe Places & Provide safe places with structured activities during non-school hours
– Healthy Start & Provide all the elements leading to good physical/mental health for a healthy future
– Marketable Skills & Provide marketable skills through effective education
– Opportunities to Serve & Provide youth with opportunities to serve in their community
Lakewood’s Community Collaboration, made up of over 100 human service organizations, service clubs, businesses, individuals and public entities presents each month a “Caught in the Act – of Keeping Lakewood’s Promise” Award to an individual or organization that has quietly performed an outstanding deed for a family/child in the City of Lakewood.