On a Saturday morning before their final exams, a group of 12 Sacred Heart students took a break from their textbooks to volunteer at a Christmas party hosted by Catholic Charities for clients of their Immigration and Refugee Services program. All of the students are current juniors enrolled in the Spanish IV Honors class taught by Sacred Heart faculty member Marcia Pastorek, who in addition to her full-time teaching role has chaperoned and advocated for the school’s global exchange program.
With a commitment for teaching students about the cultures of their chosen foreign language, Ms. Pastorek planned the Catholic Charities visit to provide her students with an opportunity to not only practice their conversational Spanish, but also introduce them to local families in the immigration process and witness the service and outreach provided by the New Orleans archdiocese. During their visit, the students helped distribute donated food and gifts and worked on crafts with children.
“The day spent volunteering at the Catholic Charities Christmas party was one I will remember,” shared Sacred Heart May Manning, Class of 2021. “My fellow Spanish peers and I were given the job of organizing the present room and collecting tickets from those who visited. Each person was given two tickets and could pick out two presents. Children from ages two to eighteen came through the room all with big smiles on their faces. Some were shy, some were outgoing, and others would come and asked to be held.”
“There was an abundance of joy in the room, with little boys picking out new toys to babies crawling on the floor,” May continued. “Although there was sometimes a language barrier, we were connected to the visitors through our love of God. It was so cool seeing all the people volunteering who were simply living out the practices of Jesus. God wants us to give to others, and this could be as simple as holding a child’s hand when they reach for it. Doing good for others helps us just as much as it helps them. When a child would come up to me and smile or wave, there was a light that lit up, and it was clear that the works of God were being done. It was days like this one that reminded me of how powerful our faith is and how important it is to give back.”