Our Lady of Charity School garners top honors in annual Catholic Charities Appeal fundraiser

By Liz Fisher
Special to The CS&T

The children of Our Lady of Charity School in Brookhaven are old hands at being helping hands. It is no wonder they topped other schools in donations for the annual “Nickels for Neighbors” fundraising campaign, part of the archdiocesan Catholic Charities Appeal.

For more than 20 years, schools in the Archdiocese have raised money during Lent to benefit the Appeal. Many schools, like Our Lady of Charity, come up with creative multi-purpose programs, meaning they successfully weave together academics and fun to raise dollars. The Delaware County school has it all down to a science, said principal Marie Anderson.

Helping neighbors is as ingrained in her students as reading, writing and math, and Nickels for Neighbors is just one of their many beneficiaries. Others include raising research money for children with cancer, juvenile diabetes and cystic fibrosis. Last year, they raised $1,600 for the Nickels campaign, but decided to send half of that amount to Haiti because that island nation was still reeling from a devastating earthquake.

When a house just a few doors down from the school burned down, the kids sprang into action, bringing in enough money for one of the victims to buy a wardrobe to continue working at her new job.

“Charity is something these children care about,” Anderson said. “It’s not tossing money into a bucket in the corner. These children are sensitive to others’ needs.”

Our Lady of Charity held two events for the Nickels for Neighbors fundraiser. The first was a Mardi Gras event held on Fat Tuesday that featured face painting, popcorn, cotton candy and games the students had to create by drawing on their language arts, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

On April 27, the students threw an “April in Paris” event. Since French is taught in all the grades, participants immersed themselves in French fashion – striped shirts, berets and scarves – and spoke French during the day. Lunch brought a choice of quiche, crepes au bluets (ham and cheese with mayonnaise) and other ethnic foods.

Our Lady of Charity and 30 other schools were recognized for their efforts on April 29 at Archbishop Ryan High School in Northeast Philadelphia. Our Lady of Charity – a school of 176 students that came close to shutting down last year – took top honors with its $1,300 donation.

Christopher Polito, archdiocesan director of the Catholic Charities Appeal, said that fundraisers include activities such as dress-down days and bake sales.

Other elementary school participants included Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Limerick, Corpus Christi in Lansdale, Immaculate Conception in Jenkintown, St. David in Willow Grove, St. Denis in Havertown, St. Margaret in Narberth, St. Maximilian Kolbe in West Chester, St. Philip Neri in Lafayette Hill, and St. Bridget, St. Christopher, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Richard, St. William and St. Matthew schools in Philadelphia.

Participating high schools included Archbishop Wood, Bishop Shanahan, Conwell-Egan, Father Judge, John W. Hallahan, St.Hubert and Little Flower.

Elizabeth Fisher is a freelance journalist and member of St. Mark Parish in Bristol.