Catholic schools week celebrates pride, tradition of service

February 9, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Rachael Goodwin, Celeste Veitch and Gabby Recchi (from left), St. Joseph third-graders, sell cookies for 50 cents to classmates, including first-grader Megan Olson (right). The funds raised will go to relief for Haiti's earthquake victims. Below, a student shows off her sugar cookie, with one bite already eaten, for a good cause. Photos by Greg Farrar

Throngs of students filled the doorway to St. Joseph School’s cafeteria.

It’s the lunch rush and the third-grade girls manning the table hollered out the names of delectable treats for purchase like the best of auctioneers.

“What do you want?” third-grader Celeste Veitch shouted over a sea of younger students. “We have cookies, brownies, cupcakes. Let me know when you’re ready.”

For 50 cents each, the endless buffet beckoned to nearly every student, preschool to third grade. Unfortunately for the students, there was a three-item limit.

The school hosted the bake sale at both the Issaquah and Snoqualmie campuses, as part of its celebration of Catholic Schools Week, meant to celebrate Catholic schools and faculty.

But more than a sweet treat for students, the bake sale was a fundraiser for Haitian children.

“We’re doing it for Haiti because of the earthquake,” said third-grader Rachael Goodwin, “to help the children of Haiti, because they don’t have as much as we do.”

They need “food, water and medical supplies,” Celeste added. “We want them to be able to buy strong stuff and live in places that don’t fall down.”

Between the two campuses, the students raised more than $1,000 for one of their favorite organizations, Friends of the Orphans, which operates in Haiti and several other South American countries, said Vice Principal Jackie Olund.

The organization provides housing, food and education for orphans and children whose parents can’t afford to support them. However, the organization doesn’t promote overseas adoption, Olund said.

“Their goal is to educate and make them strong citizens for their country,” she said. “We’ve been making donations every year, for about the last seven years.”

The school’s campuses collect loose change at lunches during Lent, Feb. 17 – March 28, to donate to Friends of the Orphans. Organizers from the nonprofit organization have come to speak to students at St. Joseph’s in prior years, to help them understand their mission and why it’s important to help others, Olund said.

“When we called them to see what we could do, they said they really needed money,” she said. “We thought Catholic Schools Week would be a great opportunity for the kids to do their service, because it is a big part of our mission.”

The organization’s volunteer dormitory collapsed during the 7.0-magnitude earthquake; its epicenter was about 12 miles from the country’s capital Port-au-Prince Jan. 12. In that collapse, Molly Hightower, a Port Orchard woman and a volunteer, died.

The school made the bake sale a special event of Student Appreciation Day during the weeklong celebration.

The week started in 1974, as an annual national celebration of the important role that Catholic elementary and secondary schools play in providing a values-added education, according to a press release from the National Catholic Educational Association.

At both campuses, students participated in a variety of activities, including an all-school Mass and assembly, and student, faculty and parent appreciation days.

Students in each grade have a variety of community service and learning projects they do throughout the year. For instance, one grade holds a pet food drive and pet blessing in the spirit of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, while another makes sandwiches for Lazarus House in Seattle, which provides sandwiches to people without lunches. Older grades in Snoqualmie have coordinated efforts to donate food and clothing to Issaquah Community Services in Issaquah and for Encompass in Snoqualmie.

The week also serves to market Catholic schools and education to families, so the schools were open for a variety of open houses.

“Catholic schools are all about outreach and how to get ourselves involved in our community,” said Ann Shikany, a spokeswoman for the schools. “This is a wonderful opportunity to get involved with that at a time we’re celebrating nationally.”

On the Web

Friends of the Orphans

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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