BERLIN, Md. – Eighteen eighth grade students just got to be angels for a day.
Nobody rang any bells and no wings were handed out. But the eighth grade class at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School did get to construct a handicap ramp for a woman in need at her home in Westover, Md., on Oct. 21.
The ramp was built in conjunction with the Chesapeake Housing Mission and is the second year the school and mission have worked together on a service project.
“It makes everyone feel better that they are helping someone,” said Grace Short, a 13-year-old eighth-grade student at the school. “I feel like we all really came together as a group and worked on the ramp.”
“She came out and said we are her angels … It really hit everybody in the heart,” Short said.
Short and 13-year-old Daniel Genga were two of the students who helped to lead the work to replace the winding and slippery ramp.
“Seeing what some people go through … they have needs and we need to help them because we have more,” said Genga.
“It helps them and it also helps us because it shows there are people who need help,” Short said.
Before they left, the students posed for a picture with the woman, whose name is not included at the request of organizers. They shared a hug and gave her a Bible signed by all 18 students.
“Service to others is one of the main things we teach our students. The Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew are incorporated in everything we do at MBS. We have them listed on banners in our entrance and predominately displayed in all of our classrooms,” according to Most Blessed Sacrament director of admissions and advancement Amanda Evans.
“At MBS, we include all of our students and their families in service projects. Each year, we look at the needs in our community and afar to decide where our help can be most useful. Aside from our eighth grade ramp building project, so far this year, our entire student body is collecting items to include in the ‘Box of Joy’ campaign for Cross Catholic Outreach. The boxes are being filled with small toys, games, toiletries, school supplies and other small items young children in developing countries will love. These boxes will be shipped to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Nicaragua. For the children that receive them, it may be the only Christmas gift they get,” Evans said.
“I am seeing the ripple effects of kindness and love,” said Most Blessed Sacrament guidance counselor Theresa Gabbard. “Our students are learning to find joy in service to others. They are learning valuable skills they did not know they could do. They learn to work as a team and how to support each other. They have a chance to look in the eyes of someone in need and see the tears of joy for the work they do together. Our eighth-graders come away feeling humbled, feeling grateful and wanting to do more to help others.”
Founded in 2009, Chesapeake Housing Mission is a nonprofit organization that provides home repairs to low-income families in the Chesapeake region of Maryland. Through volunteerism and donations, they have successfully helped over 300 families in need in Maryland’s Dorchester, Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico counties.
“The demand for our services has rapidly increased due to the growing aging population and the number in need. Our clients are identified as living below the poverty level and are referred to us by local agencies. Our partnership with these agencies helps us to locate those with the greatest need and bring donors and volunteers together to help improve the living situations of our clients,” according to the Chesapeake Housing Mission website.