Social Justice Week at St. Theresa’s (updated)

“Thank you” to everyone at St. Theresa School for allowing me to be part of their Social Justice Week! I grew in awareness, and they enlightened me in the ways we can bring awareness to others. The focus of the week was different types of hunger. I sat in on some lectures from the charity Mary’s Meals (Mary’s Meals USA website; Wikipedia article) and saw a video of what they do. Mary’s Meals builds kitchens and provides school lunches to children around the world who have few opportunities or resources. The children come there to get a meal and also to learn. You see people’s eyes brighten as they have not only food, but hope.

Plastic square designed by kindergarten student

This square by a kindergarten student is about how each person is a unique, special child of God

I worked with St. Theresa students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade as they designed and created squares to be incorporated into acrylic sculptures. First each student designed a symbol in pencil on paper. They laid a clear plastic square over that and traced the outline of their symbol using a black paint marker, then painted it.

The children’s symbols were about social justice topics such as hunger, dignity, caring for others, peace, justice, protection, stewardship, rights, responsibilities, work, poverty, and fairness. As they were painting I went around and asked them what their symbol meant, and they told me exactly. Each mark had meaning to them, and they knew exactly what they wanted to express. We wrote around the squares what they were thinking when they were painting, photographed each square, and made a video of all of them, with the children’s voices explaining their meaning. Then I drilled a hole in each square and bolted them to 16 figures that I designed, which ranged from about 30″ to 36″ high.

Completed figure incorporating St. Theresa students' squares

One of the completed figures incorporating the students’ squares

The figures were auctioned off Saturday night at their fundraising dinner and auction. They will be displayed in people’s homes and businesses, and some are staying in the school. We’ll also make stationery featuring the individual squares with each child’s name.

Throughout the week the kids did all kinds of things to raise money for Mary’s Meals. One of the creative fundraising activities was featured on local TV! The money that came in during the week was announced over the school loudspeaker, and we would pause to pray.

Thanks to the generosity of the parents, students, teachers, and parishioners of St. Theresa’s, they raised over $14,000 for Mary’s Meals! The money raised will enable Mary’s Meals to build a kitchen to provide a daily meal to students. Once a kitchen is established, on average it costs only $16.80 for them to provide school lunches for a child for an entire year (update:  current figures here)! The experience showed me the power we can have. We are all creative — if we put all our squares together, we can make a big difference in the world!

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