St. Mary’s High School seniors participated in a Day of Caring earlier this month. The class was broken up into four groups to spend the day at one of four local organizations, volunteering in whatever capacity was needed for the day. The seniors volunteered at Teacher’s Desk, The Mother Theresa Home, Harvest House, and the Food Pantry of WNY.
St. Mary’s began this class-wide Day of Caring as part of their new senior portfolio project, where seniors must complete capstone assignments for each subject they take in order to graduate. Dean of Academics Keith Junik instituted this service day as the religion requirement for the senior portfolio. In addition to its importance to the portfolio project itself, Junik knows this Day of Caring offers seniors the chance to broaden their horizons and experience something more than their day-to-day routines can offer: “As a school, we pride ourselves on our Franciscan values of service and putting ourselves third to God and others. So, we need to provide our students with opportunities to serve,” Junik said. “It is then really amazing to see them take those opportunities and become completely immersed in making a difference. It turns out to be quite the empowering experience for them.”
St. Mary’s senior Brianna Propis was part of the group that spent the day volunteering at Teacher’s Desk, an organization that provides free school supplies for teachers serving those areas of Buffalo most in need. Propis knows the importance of being able to give back to the community: “To be able to have these opportunities – to see and experience things we wouldn’t normally – is something I am truly thankful for. We need to look for every opportunity to put some good into the world, and that’s what we were able to do here today.” Senior Matt Vallone spent the day at Harvest House, cleaning and doing several other tasks, and saw the impact his one day at the site could have for the people who benefit from the organization: “I can’t wait to get even more involved in community service. The feeling you get from serving others is extremely powerful,” Vallone said.
Head of School Kevin Kelleher started a faculty and staff Day of Caring at St. Mary’s last year, where the adults of the building participated in a day of service. So, naturally, a student version of the day was a natural extension of St. Mary’s mission: “There are so many great organizations in Buffalo that serve some type of population in need or serve a deserving cause,” Kelleher said. “We have a platform to work with these organizations that are so vital to our community and show our kids they can make a difference. That’s the power of learning through experiences in and out of the classroom.”