By Katherine Long
MATTYDALE — Students at St. Margaret’s School in Mattydale and Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School in East Syracuse went the extra mile together Feb. 2, helping to stock the pantry at St. Margaret’s Church with much-needed items.
The project was part of the diocese’s “Mercy Extended: Catholic Schools Day of Service,” which saw all of the Catholic schools in the diocese participate in a community service project as part of their Catholic Schools Week celebrations.
Grimes student council members arrived at St. Margaret’s by bus Tuesday morning, bearing bags of hygiene products, paper goods and toiletries donated by their classmates. A collection box was placed in each Grimes homeroom so every student had a chance to contribute, Junior Class President Zachary Jones explained.
“As a community, we [think] it’s really important to give back, so we take every opportunity we have,” he said.
Grimes students, joined by St. Margaret’s sixth graders, formed a human chain from the bus to the church sanctuary, passing the donations inside and placing them at the altar.
The human chain followed part of a path, marked by construction paper footprints, leading from the school into the church. Each footprint was inscribed with an example of how a St. Margaret’s student had “gone the extra mile” in his or her life to be of service to others.
“I will go the extra mile by playing with someone sitting alone,” one read. “I will go the extra mile by donating clothes to the poor,” said another.
The footprints were part of the school’s participation in the Extra Mile program, an initiative begun by Father Jamie Schultz and now expanding into parishes, schools and groups throughout the diocese.
“The Extra Mile is a program that challenges us with this question: What can I do to extend the footprint of my faith a little further into the world?” explained program coordinator Jeff Dixe, who was on hand for the day of service.
“This is just incredible,” he said of the schools’ effort. “It absolutely blows me away.”
A prayer service for the whole school body was offered by St. Margaret’s Pastor Father Robert Hyde. Afterward, Sister Lucy Flaherty, MFIC, director of Human Development at St. Margaret’s thanked the students for their contributions.
The St. Margaret’s pantry serves about 120 families each month, according to Sister Lucy. The items donated — paper towels, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, baby wipes — are not always available at the pantry and cannot be purchased with food stamps, she said.
“I’m going to tell all the people that come to the food pantry that you were the ones who brought it… to help them live a better life,” she told the students.