HomeHome Page FeaturedFulfilling the St. Albert the Great mission

Fulfilling the St. Albert the Great mission

Photo by Jamie Stow
Photo by Jamie Stow

By Debra Wallace

Northeast Times

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The students at St. Albert the Great Catholic School are busy with their lessons this time of year, and some of them go way beyond the classroom and spill over into helping to make the community a better place.

In fact, the lessons that they are engaged in should have a long-lasting effect as they are involved in the school’s major service projects, the school’s Thanksgiving Holiday Food Collection Drive and Christmas Socks for the Street Drive.

The Thanksgiving Food Collection Drive took place from Nov. 3-17, and each grade level at the school, with help from their families, was encouraged to donate canned goods and other non-perishable items.

These collection drives are a tradition that principal Sandra McDevitt is extremely proud of.

“At St. Albert the Great School we develop Catholic leaders and we know that Thanksgiving and Advent are times to focus on gratitude and kindness towards others,” McDevitt said. “This is a great learning experience for our students. Helping one another is a core Catholic belief and this is a perfect way to make a difference.”

At a time when everyone is concerned about the chaos in the world, this is a time to reach out and help others. Each class at the school collected the items as they explore the resonating theme that “grateful hearts on Thanksgiving to celebrate the abundance of life.”

These collections include stuffing for pre-K and kindergarteners, canned veggies for first grade, canned yams/cranberries for second grade, pasta and sauces for third grade, hot and cold cereal for fourth grade, canned soup for fifth grade, canned tuna/meals for sixth grade, rice/gravy for seventh grade and canned fruit/applesauce for eighth grade.

“Our service projects give us the ability to teach the children that we have to care about all people and help them in any way that we can,” said Rosemary Mason, the school’s assistant principal and a fifth-grade teacher.

With more than 38 years as a teacher, Mason understands how much children learn from watching adults engage in acts of kindness.

“We are teaching our students, and their families, that we have to look out for the needs of others, while at the same time the community benefits from getting these gifts,” she said. “We are grateful for what we have and want to share with those in need. This makes everyone involved feel good to do their part. Of course, we always pray for the families receiving these gift baskets.”

The second fundraiser at the school is the Christmas Socks for the Street Drive, which is part of the holiday festivities, including Advent Prayer Services, a student Christmas concert, a joyous Church Festival of the Choirs and a Living Nativity with children in kindergarten and seventh grade.

All of these efforts fit in well with the school’s mission: “Saint Albert the Great School provides a learning environment that is Christ-centered and rooted in our values of trust, honesty, integrity, and respect.”

The school recognizes that “each child is unique and strives to build an academic foundation that will prepare our students to meet the rigorous demands of higher education and become future leaders in their communities.” 

Krysta Keen, the Collection Drive coordinator and Student Council moderator, is in charge of the canned food collection and sock drives that have been going on at the school for dozens of years. She coordinates the projects with the help of Tara Migatz, who teaches fifth- to eighth-grade honors math.

This fifth-grade teacher said that the recipients of the canned items come from the food program run by the Nutritional Development Services, which is part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

One of Keen’s favorite aspects of the collection efforts is “being able to talk to my students about the things we are thankful for this time of the year, and why we should be grateful. I enjoy them asking if they can bring in one more can and seeing them get excited about helping a family.”

The life lessons of gratitude, kindness and compassion will resonate with her students and keep them in good stead throughout their lives.

“We want them to be grateful for what they have beyond a cell phone or video game. We ask them, ‘What are you grateful for that other kids don’t have?’ ”

The school’s Socks for the Street Drive this month collects socks for area homeless people. Like the canned food drive, the socks are divided among the grades – from pre-K to eighth grade — in the categories of kids’ socks, women’s and men’s socks, “and we work to collect as many as we can.”

This is in keeping with the fact that socks are most requested by homeless people. Other requested items include blankets, towels, diapers and wipes.

“Everyone in the school is involved,” Keen said with great pride. “It is important to teach our students to be kind and generous to those who don’t have what they have. This is all about getting the children excited about helping people, and underscores the fact that our school is known for helping others.” ••

Saint Albert the Great Catholic School is located at 214 Welsh Road in Huntingdon Valley, with most of the students and parishioners from the Northeast. For further information about the school and its programs, email principal Sandra McDevitt at mrsmcdevitt@satg1.org.

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