COLORADO SPRINGS. Christmas break has begun for students at St. Mary’s High School, but in the weeks leading up to break, the students were busy spreading the love of Christmas throughout the Colorado Springs community. Some of these holiday service projects are long-standing, while others are new, but through them all, the St. Mary’s students showed that they are inspired by their faith to live out the love of Christ to those around them.
The Students for Life club kicked off the holiday season with caroling at Sunny Vista Living Center, which is located in the block behind the St. Mary’s campus. In addition to singing, the club members shared cookies and treats with the Sunny Vista residents. It was the second year that the Students for Life club has visited the center at Christmas time.
Mary Simmons, Students for Life parent adviser, said that the club feels like the visit is an important one since the club’s mission is to promote the sanctity of life from conception until natural death.
“Spending time interacting with our elderly neighbors, recognizing the value of every life all along the life continuum from womb to tomb is a vital aspect of our pro-life mission,” she said. “The sharing of Christmas spirit brought joy to all of us — young and old!”
In a tradition now spanning many years, the National Art Honor Society again sponsored its Giving Tree project, which also benefits the residents of Sunny Vista Living Center. The center provides the names of its residents and a gift they would like to receive, then the art honor society creates ornament tags to hang on a tree. St. Mary’s students can choose a name and buy for that resident, and the gifts are delivered by the club before Christmas.
Senior and NAHS officer Erin Berson has participated in the Giving Tree for a few years now, and it is a project that she loves being a part of. While the Giving Tree is a NAHS tradition, Berson said it is just one of many community service projects that the club has participated in over the years.
“As NAHS members, we like to make sure that in addition to improving our art skills, we improve ourselves too,” Berson said. “The Giving Tree is a great experience giving back and expressing the true meaning of Christmas. It helps us all realize how lucky we are to have such an amazing school in which we get to learn and be creative. It also helps us realize that not everyone is as blessed as we are, and we should remember to look after those people too and help them have an amazing holiday.”
St. Mary’s National Honor Society has also sponsored two giving events this Christmas season. NHS recently finished the Operation Shoebox project, filling 22 boxes this year. It is the second year that NHS has sponsored the Operation Shoebox project.
Jeanne Cichon, NHS staff adviser, said that in 2018, NHS decided it wanted to sponsor an event that benefitted members of the military, since the St. Mary’s community includes many military families.
“We write letters and collect items that we ship to Operation Shoebox in Florida” Cichon said. “They have a list of soldier names, and put together one shoebox per soldier, adding a letter, and can ship them overseas at a better price than we could. Then they mail us a copy of replies from soldiers and airmen.”
And the giving spirit will continue into the new year thanks to a coat, hat and scarf drive that is sponsored by the National Honor Society. Each year NHS sponsors the drive to collect items that are then donated to Catholic Charities’ Marian House Soup Kitchen.
This year Maryn Pierce, a junior at St. Mary’s, member of NHS and figure skater, received permission to place a large collection box at the Ice Hall at the Broadmoor World Arena during the month of December. Then, in January, the honor society will ask the St. Mary’s community to contribute to the drive.
All of the donated items will be delivered to the Marian House during Catholic Schools Week, which is the last week of January.
(Amy G. Partain is director of communications for St. Mary’s High School.)