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First but Far from Last

The enthusiasm of one service-focused Wisconsin school leads to St. Kilian 1239’s first Feeding God’s Children Event.

For the past seven years, students at St. Mary Catholic School in Colby, Wis., have made cards for local senior citizens and celebrated Mass with the residents once a month. When Principal Nancy Zygarlicke met with Catholic Order of Foresters Agent Geoff Wolterstorff, they began to see the opportunity to create a new Feeding God’s Children event from what the school was already doing. An existing event then became St. Killian 1239’s first-ever Feeding God’s Children event! Patty Eaton of Our Lady of the Lake 2506 in Ashland, Wis., offered to help Nancy register her event and order the bright yellow T-shirts for students and teachers. Connecting Nancy with the Fraternal Outreach Team, Patty was able to assist Nancy with questions and logistics from over 130 miles away.

Third grade teacher Deanna Roth, who has been running these events between the school and nursing homes, was so excited to have Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) jump on to support. “It has been so awesome working with COF,” Deanna said. “I didn’t realize it was an option until our principal brought it up. One of my third graders was so excited about the shirts that he was going to wear it all the time!” All 100 students at St. Mary School were sporting their new yellow FGC shirts as they gathered together to create Easter cards. “We try to include a bible verse, and the kids always add a personal note,” Deanna explained. She, and all the teachers, encouraged the students to sign their names and add their school grade level to each card they made. She emphasized how much the residents enjoy praying for the students who make the cards and having a student’s name allows for a more personal connection, even if they never meet. “It is a way to show our students service doesn’t cost a lot of money and something small can do so much good,” she continued. “We do a lot of drives and collections, but this is much more enjoyable for the kids. You’re giving the gift of joy, you’re giving the gift of yourself, [and] it means so much to them. We always tell the kids that.”. Taking an hour out of their school day, the students made enough cards for all five senior citizen homes in Colby and the surrounding area.

Partnering with COF has inspired Nancy to host another Feeding God’s Children event for the fall and invite community members. “We’re thinking the middle of November,” she said of the school’s upcoming food drive. “At the end of the school year, we send home a list so the kids can save throughout the summer. Deanna will be heading that up again,” Nancy said, praising Deanna for her hard work. Nancy is also ready to pay it forward: “I’d be willing to help others set this up, or if they want to use me as a contact, like I was able to do with Patty.”

Both Nancy and Deanna are enthusiastic about new service opportunities they see coming their way. “It has been an easy, wonderful experience,” Deanna said.  “Some service projects can be daunting,” she admitted, but elaborated how the more she plans, the more she begins to think, “Okay, we can do it a little bit bigger next time.” As Deanna and Nancy plan to continue making the cards for the foreseeable future, while adding the Food Drive, bigger will certainly be even better. While this was the first official FGC event for St. Killian’s 1239, there will be many more to come.

Article by Kaitlynrose Bicek.

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