January 24, 2020

Catholic School Week Supplement

Garden helps plant the seed of helping others

Students at Christ the King School in Indianapolis work together in the garden to grow produce to help people in need. (Submitted photo)

Students at Christ the King School in Indianapolis work together in the garden to grow produce to help people in need. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Hannah Radford’s face lights up with joy as she talks about working in her school’s garden that produces fresh vegetables for families in need.

Daniel Kent has a similar expression when he mentions how he and his fellow students contribute money and collect food items to help people in Haiti.

“Realizing that people need our help energizes us to help,” says Daniel, an eighth-grade student at Christ the King School in Indianapolis with Hannah.

Hannah’s and Daniel’s reactions are exactly what Christ the King principal Ed Seib was seeking when he started the Catholic Charity Collaborations program at the school three years ago.

“I wanted to show the students what it’s like to help others, to plant the seed of putting our faith into action,” Seib says. “I used a Pope Francis quote, ‘Let us protect Christ in our lives so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation.’ It was a way of living out that quote, not only to each other but to other people in the world.”

In the program’s first year, the school community focused on a different charity each month, including helping homeless families at Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis and refugees and immigrants through Catholic Charities Indianapolis.

“We asked the directors what they needed. The kids would bring in the items, and we’d have a freewill offering at one of the school Masses,” Seib says.

“The next year, we let the kids come up with different ideas, and we let them run with it. We spent half the year donating money for the Haiti lunch program. Christ the King has a couple sister parishes in Haiti that we share with St. Matthew [the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis.] We raised $1,200 for that.”

The school community also raises vegetables for the food pantry of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Indianapolis, by planting a garden. More than 200 pounds of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and strawberries were donated to the pantry last year.

“They write back saying how thankful they are to give fresh produce to people,” says Hannah who has planted seeds, picked weeds and assembled planter boxes in the garden with fellow students. “The little kids and we work in the garden. It’s good to see all of your work pay off and help other people in the community.”

Both Hannah and Daniel appreciate how the program involves all the students in the school because it shows the younger children the importance of helping others at any early age.

“It makes you feel more fortunate, and you’re thankful for what you do have,” Daniel says. “And when you receive the thank-you letters, that makes you happy.” †

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