St. Edmond Catholic Schools and Holy Trinity Parish raised $17,249 for Mary's Meals to help a school in Malawi.
Mary's Meals began in Scotland in 1992 with the ambition to make a difference. The organization provides famine relief and food to countries in Africa. The meals are a simple corn meal and protein powder mix.
"For a lot of them, that's the only meal they get per day," Heidi Touney, parish life director, said. "You can feed a child with that for about $16.70 a year. They get that when they're in school, and that draws them to school. Otherwise, they're spending their time trying to figure out where to get their food."
The funds were raised during Lent in March.
"Our goal was to raise $12,000. That would be enough to build a kitchen at one of these schools, and the equipment needed," Touney said. "We did accomplish that, much to everyone's surprise, and it just kept growing and we ended up with just over $17,000, which was enough to then go ahead and feed for a year at that site."
Usually, only $6,000 is raised during Lent.
"Our bookkeeper referred to it as manna from heaven. She said it just keeps showing up," Touney said.
It was not a lone effort.
Linda Fiorello, sixth-grade religion teacher, helped galvanize her students toward the effort.
"We helped make some trifold boards to put around the parish and parish sites to advertise where they would collect the money," Fiorello said. "I'm also the catechetical director for grades one through eight, and so we had a contest between the different grade levels to bring in money. We raised $581, which I thought was pretty good for our little program. I have 100 kids. It pulled in the whole parish, not just St. Edmond kids."
Fiorello said seeing her students' efforts was inspiring.
"The kids were really excited about the opportunity to help the poor children," she said. "We showed videos of the organization, the communities over there, so they could see who they were helping and how they were helping. They really got involved."
As a teacher, Fiorello wants to instill in her students a sense of charity.
"That's part of our curriculum, not only learning about their faith but how to live their faith," she said. "And this is one way they can certainly do that."
Maric Salocker, St. Edmond High School student, helped get her fellow students involved.
"I tried to promote the students to help with Mary's Meals," Salocker said. "I helped make billboards around the school with the smaller students. Some showed the totals of each week of the money raising, and had posters of the kids and Mary's Meals. We also did the penny wars to raise money."
Salocker said not only was it exciting to be a part of an effort that helped others, it affirms what she is being taught about charity.
"We're taught to help each other and by raising the money we're helping kids in Africa," she said. "It's exciting to know you're helping out and getting people involved."