On a recent overcast and gloomy day inWest Chester, the sun seemed to find its way inside St. Agnes Day Room. The cause of some of this brightness and warmth? “Operation Kids Care,” a community service program ofSt.PatrickSchoolin Malvern.
On this special day, some fifth-grade students paid a visit to spread goodwill and contribute to the wonderful efforts offered by the Day Room to members of their community.
St. Patrick’s “Operation Kids Care” is a grass-roots program which began in 2003. The purpose is to teach how enthusiasm, hard work, and simple acts of kindness can make a difference to members of the community.
“Operations Kids Care is a powerful program that teaches students to give to others who are less fortunate,” said Stacey Naselli, a parent volunteer involved since the program’s inception. “It is a positive program that is mutually beneficial for our students and the people we are serving — a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
Each year, the grades are assigned to a local facility. The service projects of younger students have included assisted-living facilities, Camilla Hall in Malvern and Cradles to Crayons among others. The first grade has honored a special parishioner annually by attending a Mass and reception, and making gifts.
The older students have shared their Christian spirit not only with the St. Agnes Day Room but also St. Edmond’s Home for Children, Home of the Sparrow and Royers-Greaves School for the Blind.
At these facilities gardens have been planted, dances hosted, baskets of necessities made, meals served, and care given to young children, to mention just a few of the acts of kindness.
“Part of the success is due to the committed teachers and parent volunteers who graciously offer so much of their time and effort,” said Jen Walheim, a mother of St. Patrick students.
Special to “Operation Kids Care” are the people of St. Agnes Day Room, who have received annual visits since the program began. “Our friends from St. Patrick’s School radiate the joy of the Holy Spirit,” said Barbara Kirby, director of outreach services at St. Agnes Parish. “It is beautiful to witness the new friendships formed between children who might not otherwise have met each other but who both speak the language of the heart. Kindness is luminescent!”
Each year fifth-grade students, in groups of four to six at a time, spend a morning at the facility helping to serve breakfast to the people who visit the Day Room. Each student also brings a generous food donation including fresh muffins, fruit, cereal or milk.
One of the guests to the Day Room, Maria Estrada, said, “The Day Room is a place I can get help, clothes and other items. The services it provides are so important to me and other families.”
After the meal is finished, the children of St. Patrick’s volunteer more time in the Preparatory Program, where the preschool-aged children of St. Agnes Outreach come to learn and play.
“Operation Kids Care is one of my favorite things because I get to do something for people in need and be really involved,” said Kristyann Kucia, a fifth grader at St. Patrick. “We all feel very good about being helpers each year.”
“I have never seen a more hands-on social ministry program than Operation Kids Care,” said Patricia O’Donnell, principal of St. Patrick. “Our students have the wonderful opportunity to ‘get in the trenches’ with all kinds of people -‑ the mentally handicapped, the blind, the poor, the orphaned and the infirmed. Most of our students want for nothing, but these life changing experiences help them to be more thoughtful, kind, generous and caring Catholic Christians who will be the future leaders in our church.”