To honor healthcare workers on “Celebrating Your Community” day as part of Catholic Schools Week, students at St. Margaret Mary School in Harrisburg assembled 200 snack bags for employees at Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center in Camp Hill.
The service project was in response to a request from the hospital’s Vice President of Mission Integration, Sister Mary Joseph Albright, SCC. She reached out to St. Margaret Mary School to ask students to help boost the workers’ morale.
The entire student body responded, decorating gift bags with uplifting messages and filling them with granola bars, chips, pretzels and chocolate. The snacks were purchased by the Student Council through monetary donations the school collected for the project.
“Each day during Catholic Schools Week has a theme, and one theme was Celebrating Your Community…. We thought to focus on our essential workers in our community during the pandemic was a perfect way to celebrate those who serve our community,” said St. Margaret Mary School’s principal, Mary Jo Pronio.
The students “were very enthusiastic and it showed in their artwork,” she said. “Many students have family members who work in healthcare, and they commented that their mother or aunt or dad would love to get something like this because their days are so long. It was interesting to hear them talk about what they were drawing on their bag and why.”
Messages read, “Stay safe,” “Thank you,” “Happy Valentine’s Day” and “I hope you have the most amazing day.” Bags were decorated with hearts, rainbows, teddy bears, flowers and snowflakes.
Student Council moderator Jen Grill presented the 200 bags to Sister Mary Joseph Albright at the hospital.
“Sister was so excited. She said to tell everyone she was ‘jumping up and down’ with excitement,” Grill relayed. “When I opened my van door, I think she expected 20 bags. When she saw the entire van filled with bags, she was overjoyed.”
“It was very fulfilling, knowing we were making someone’s day,” Grill said. “When I got back to school, I spoke with my Student Council officers and relayed Sister’s sentiments. She wanted them to know how appreciative she was and hoped that they would always be service-oriented. They were so excited that their efforts were appreciated.”
The service project for the hospital is one among many activities at St. Margaret Mary School. Community involvement is representative of the school’s mission, and includes a “Socktober” drive for the Interfaith Shelter for Homeless Families, donating soup for the soup kitchen at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, collecting baby items for Morning Star Pregnancy Services, participating in a Poppies Project to benefit veterans, making crafts for Caitlin’s Smiles and conducting a Thanksgiving food drive.
“St. Margaret Mary School teaches the importance of service to others,” Pronio said. “Service to others is something that we emphasize with our students where we try to instill a giving heart. This service project was especially important this year because of the pandemic and showing our appreciation to our essential workers.”
(For more information about St. Margaret Mary School, visit www.stmmparishschool.org.)
(Photos courtesy of St. Margaret Mary School.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness