By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
LEE’S SUMMIT — It is now, officially, a tradition for the entire school family.
For more than a decade, students at Our Lady of the Presentation School have been bringing baby supplies for area agencies serving mothers and their infants.
But this year for the first time, the annual “Baby Shower” to honor and celebrate the birthday of Mary included pre-kindergarten students in the school’s early childhood education center.
It’s never been a hard sell as students brought hundreds of bags filled with diapers, baby bottles, formula and new clothing.
“Not at all,” said school counselor Vicki Mueller, who coordinated the drive at the school’s Sept. 12 Mass, just four days after the feast of the Nativity of Mary. “Our students are very generous, very willing to bring in items, and very excited to serve.”
This year, the drive will benefit four agencies, including one not specifically serving infants.
The nearly 500 bags filled with thousands of dollars worth of supplies would be sorted and divided among Rachel House, a Lee’s Summit crisis pregnancy center; Hope House, a shelter from domestic violence; Operation Breakthrough, a midtown Kansas City agency that has been providing day care services to working poor mothers for decades; and Redemptorist Social Services’ annual “Sock It to Poverty” drive that collects new socks and underwear for the poor and the homeless.
Mueller said that service is woven into the fabric of the curriculum at Our Lady of Presentation, and it is a lesson that can’t begin to be taught too early.
It is also not unusual to see students use their own money to purchase the supplies they will give away, she said.
“Some kids use their allowances or the money they get from jobs to go out and buy new things,” she said. “It is that important for our kids.”
Eighth grader Savannah Gray had a simple answer for why the school has made this day an annual tradition.
“We do it because of Mary,” she said. “We donate items for mothers so they can have nice, new things for their children when they can’t afford them.”
Seventh-grader Thomas Tyler said giving is its own reward.
“When we help people and make them feel good and happy, that makes us feel good and happy too,” he said.
In his homily during the Mass, parish pastor Father Tom Holder told the students by giving freely, they are following the example of Mary who gave the greatest gift — her son, Jesus.
“We celebrate her because she gave us the example of how to live our faith,” he said. “We call upon her name to help us follow Jesus more closely in our lives.”