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Prep Students Respond to Needs of the Community

Tuesday, December 2, 2008   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Michael Graziano
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St. Francis Prep Students Respond to the Needs of their Community

Throughout its 150 year history, students at St. Francis Preparatory School have participated in its annual Thanksgiving Donation Drive to benefit those who are in need of some of the most basic necessities—food and personal care items. This year, the need was great, but the response was greater.The day before Thanksgiving, the auditorium stage at Prep was completely covered with thousands of donated items from students, faculty and staff members. “This was the biggest collection I have witnessed in the 7 years that I have been here” said Prep's Director of Campus Ministry, Christian Sullivan.

The Bayside/Fresh Meadows neighborhood of Queens where Prep is located is one of many “bedroom communities” to many who are employed on Wall Street and in related industries. The recent downturn in the stock market has had ripple effects in the overall economy, and local food pantries and outreach ministries have felt the pinch. A few agencies that have had a long relationship with the Prep community called upon the school a little earlier this year to help fill their increased need. The students, faculty and staff responded in great measure.
(l-r) Bro. Leonard Conway, O.S.F. with Prep students loading
the van for Sr. Maria Erickson, l.s.p and Sr. Marie Reagan, l.s.p.

Every member of the St. Francis Prep community was involved in the process. Prep Science teacher Ann Marie Rich took a novel approach with her students. She divided students in her homeroom into groups by row and challenged them to put together a basket with enough food to feed an entire family for one day of the week.

“It proved to be an effective way to humanize the issue and make it more relevant than merely citing statistics or sharing anecdotal stories about those in our community who are in need” said Christian Sullivan, speaking of the success of that class in gathering donations.

“The overwhelmingly positive response from the St. Francis Prep student community is truly reflective of their family values and how we as a Catholic, Franciscan school help them nurture and develop their spirituality,” said Brother James McVeigh, the mission coordinator at St. Francis Prep. “To live lovingly is a fundamental value at the Prep and it is rooted in the teachings of our patron saint—St. Francis of Assisi.”

Bro. Leonard Conway, O.S.F., who began teaching at the school in 1971 and has served as its Principal since 1983, has been through many economic ups and downs. “I can recall the 1973-74 prolonged downturn in the stock market, the deep recession in the 1980s, the “Gulf War” recession of the early 1990s and the economic shockwaves after the September 11th attacks” said Bro. Leonard. He continued, “This has been, by far, the largest and most determined response by our students in memory.”

The St. Francis Prep “Give from your Cor” Thanksgiving Donation Drive was held from Nov. 17th -24th. (At SFP, we intentionally refer to homeroom by the Latin word, COR, meaning heart.) The agencies which each received 25 boxes of goods included: St. Aloysius (Ridgewood), Incarnation Food Pantry (Queens Village), Presentation Soup Kitchen (Jamaica), St. John's Bread and Life (Brooklyn), and Saint Mary Star of the Sea & St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church (Far Rockaway). Representatives from each of the organizations were present at our Thanksgiving liturgy on November 26th to receive the donations.