The 5th grade class at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Kirkwood put their “faith into action” by taking the words of St. Teresa to heart through a mission project to help the homeless. Because their church is a one of our night sites, the students chose to focus their efforts on the children served by Room at the Inn. The teachers and the mothers of the 5th graders worked with Program Director Valorie Ferlis on coordinating the project.
“The students made pillows and collected items such as pajamas and socks for the ‘comfy kits’ they put together for our young clients,” explains Valorie. “I also went to the school on April 12 to give a short presentation and bring them little house banks so they also could do a special collection. I encouraged them to do an extra chore or something to earn money themselves to donate because even a dollar or two can help a homeless child in a big way.”
Volunteer Coordinator Melanie Matthew came up with the idea of assembling the “comfy kits.”
“The ‘comfy kits’ can be very reassuring to children when they arrive at Room. Children often times feel a bit uneasy when they come to our shelter. By giving them one of our ‘comfy kits,’ we can help put them at ease and make them feel welcome by providing some needed items that are just for them. It usually puts a big smile on their faces and anything we can do to make them feel better is worth the effort,” states Melanie.
On Tuesday, April 23, the entire 5th grade class took a field trip to visit Room’s day site and tour the facility. They spent the morning in service by cleaning and sanitizing toys in the playroom, sorting and restocking shelves in the storage area and rolling the coins from the banks. Together, the class managed to raise $200 to help Room’s children. Teresa Stoeckel, one of the 5th grade mothers who accompanied the class on the field trip, feels the mission project will have a lasting impact on the students.
“Kids don’t always think they can do a lot to help with big issues like homelessness, but they can,” says Teresa. “By creating the ‘comfy kits,’ taking up the collection and spending the morning in service, they have learned there is something very tangible they can do to make a difference in their community. It is also important to teach them about volunteering now so they will look for similar opportunities in the future.”
The volunteer experience has definitely made an impression on the students.
“I learned today that there are a lot more kids than adults who are homeless and that some people sleep in their cars because they don’t have anywhere to go,” says Matthew, who helped clean the playroom. “It’s nice to help people and it’s kind of fun!”
“I learned if you have a chance to help others, you should,” says Alison, who helped sort donations. “Helping out makes me feel good. I will probably volunteer in the future.”
Some of the students expressed interest in the night site program at St. Peter’s and asked Valorie what volunteer opportunities there are for kids on the nights they host.
“There are so many things kids can do at the night sites to help our young clients,” says Valorie. “They can prepare a special snack, help with homework or simply play a game with the kids to make them feel welcome and ‘at home’ in their church. These simple acts of kindness can mean so much to a child who is homeless … and their parents, too!”
Do you know of a class who would be interested in planning a similar mission project for Room? Contact Program Director Valorie Ferlis or Volunteer Coordinator Melanie Matthew at 314-209-9198 or by email here to learn more!