Third-grader Andrew Boyer’s small frame belies the power he packs in his right leg.
Andrew, taking part in a fundraiser during a physical education class at St. Joseph School in Imperial, stood for a moment to size up the situation, then booted a ball toward a target on the wall.
He showed a little pride for using the inside of his foot to kick and for the satisfaction helping children attending St. Joseph’s sister school in Haiti.
Kicks for Christ, a soccer goal-scoring competition, was devised by St. Joseph’s Student Council and National Junior Honor Society as a Catholic Schools Week service project. The minimum $5 donation per student helps Institution Sacré Coeur de Jésus, a school of about 300 students in Port-au-Prince operated by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who also are on staff at St. Joseph School. The class winners were determined by how many points they accrued, depending on where their shots landed.
The project raised more than $1,500 for the cause, with 270 students participating.
Several of the eighth-graders explained how the project started and why it was important. Abby Schutte, an honor society member, said the students sought a way to connect with the school in Haiti. Her school had helped fund a playground/gym at the Haitian school, and in looking at photos of it and students playing soccer, an activity involving soccer was a natural tie-in, Abby said.
Madyson Bohnert, a student council and honor society member, explained that the service project also was intended to be fun and evoke school spirit. She added that it gave everyone an opportunity to participate, and the results showed that sometimes the best soccer players weren’t the highest scorers.
Council member Alex Westerman said he enjoyed the fundraiser because it was an opportunity to help people who are less fortunate. “Sometimes we take that for granted, and we don’t understand how lucky we are compared to other people who need it more than us,” he said.
Honor society member Bailey Cappozzo said that as Catholics “we are called to help people who are less fortunate.”
Jordan Crowley, an honor society member, relates to Institution Sacré Coeur de Jésus because the students celebrate similar things, such as the feast of Blessed Clelia Merloni, the foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Another honor society member, Quinn Huffmeier, said it’s good to have a connection with students so far away.
Physical education teacher Lori Brandhorst, who worked with the student leaders, said she appreciated that they were focused on helping others, even though they’re missing out on some things they usually do during Catholic Schools Week. School principal Sister
Carol Sansone, ASCJ, said Catholic education helps students see that they are part of a global Church. They’ve reached out to help people in the African country of Benin as well, and “recognize how much we need to support our community, our Church community, our human community,” she said.
Eighth-grader Madyson reported that she feels lucky to go to St. Joseph, a place where she can be open about her faith. “I can relate to other students and know that they want to get to know Jesus too,” she said.
Institution Sacré Coeur de Jésus
• Name means: Sacred Heart of Jesus School (in French)
• Run by Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Brazil
• About 300 students, ages 3-14
• Families of the students in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, are poor and many have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
• Students receive breakfast and a big lunch at school.
• Most students have no health insurance, but some Franciscan brothers work alongside the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to provide a clinic.