FAIRFIELD—Notre Dame High School recently concluded its fifth annual 26 Acts of Kindness Campaign. Started in the days following the tragedy in Sandy Hook, the school continues with the tradition as a way to remember the lives lost in Newtown.
Each year, a calendar is designed with a different act of kindness assigned to one of twenty six school days. This year, the Notre Dame community donated hundreds of items during seven community collection campaigns: pet food for the Humane Society; coats, sweatshirts, blankets and socks for the homeless; canned and boxed food for Operation Hope in Fairfield; toiletry items for a local shelter; and children’s books for the Kiwanis Club’s Read to Grow program.
Three dates were designed for school-wide letter-writing campaigns. In total, over 1,000 letters were written by the student body. “Thank a First Responder” letters were sent to the Fairfield Police and Fire Departments, as well as representatives from American Medical Response (AMR). Students wrote letters to servicemen and women on “Thank a Soldier Day”. The letters were mailed to active duty soldiers who have ties to the Notre Dame community. The final letter writing campaign occurred on “Thank a Teacher Day”. Students took time to write a letter to a special teacher – past or present – who has impacted their lives. Notre Dame then mailed these letters to any teacher outside of the school.
Additional acts of kindness throughout the campaign include simpler tasks like “Share a Compliment With Someone”, “Be Positive Day”, and “Please and Thank You Day”.
The 26-day campaign concluded on the Friday of Catholic Schools Week with Notre Dame’s ninth annual Community Service Day. Originally begun with a few dozen students volunteering in the community, the most recent day included over 400 students (nearly 80% of the student body) visiting 37 different non-profit sites throughout Fairfield, New Haven, and Litchfield Counties.
Service Day is coordinated by Notre Dame’s Director of Campus Ministry, Jessica Medoff. With weeks of coordination and outreach to sites throughout the area, in addition to the work of securing the volunteer efforts of the student body (and adult chaperones), the one-day event is a significant undertaking.
Medoff commented, “Seeing our students in action throughout the community is truly inspiring. We couldn’t pull this event off without the tremendous support of our students, faculty and parents. They all help to make the ND community so special.”
This year’s Service Day campaign brought Notre Dame students, faculty members and parents to a variety of Diocesan-affiliated sites, including a number of local schools: St. James, St. Andrew’s, St. Ann’s, St. Mark’s, Assumption, St. Rose, St. Catherine’s Academy and Cathedral Academy. Volunteers also helped at Habitat for Humanity, Operation Hope, Merton House, Malta House, Sterling House and Homes for the Brave. Students provided assistance at Blessed Sacrament and St. Catherine’s Parish. Some students remained at
Notre Dame and crocheted hats for Bridgeport Hospital and made Valentine’s packages for area shut-ins.
Principal Chris Cipriano commented, “Service Day is the perfect example of how we strive to build character, faith and intellect in all of our students. A goal of the school is to ensure all students graduate understanding the importance of a life-long commitment to serving others. I could not be more proud of our community for supporting this tremendous opportunity – and I’m especially proud of all those who have made a commitment to service well beyond this single day.”
Notre Dame’s Chaplain, Deacon John DiTaranto, commented, “Service Day was a great witness and testimony to charity, generosity and service to our community as Catholic Schools Week comes to a close.” Having worked with a group of 28 students at the Blessed Sacrament Food Pantry, Deacon John was especially impressed with the “time and energy spent sorting and shelving more than 1,000 items” in the matter of just a few hours time.
Senior Millenia Polanco noted, “Service Day is an amazing, insightful way to learn outside of the classroom. Volunteering our time isn’t limited to only Service Day, but doing it as a community makes it even better.”
Junior Angelica Zacarola said, “I participated in Service Day because I find so much joy in serving my community and I realized I am blessed with a great life, and others aren’t. We have to be thankful for what we have.”
Sophomore Josue Mayorga said, “I helped today because it is always a privilege to serve others and give them the help they need.”
For more information on Notre Dame Fairfield, go to: www.notredame.org