By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Catholic Schools Week kicked off in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph with a variety of “student-friendly” activities. In many parishes with schools, the Week began with Sunday Mass involving uniform-clad students.
The fun began Monday morning. The theme for this year’s celebration is Catholic Schools raise the standards — of service, academics, stewardship, leadership, love, hope and faith. For Christ the King School students, it was a day of service at the Christ the King Senior Center.
The Senior Center, which is operated by Catholic Charities, is open daily in the parish hall for senior parishioners and neighbors. Scheduled activities include exercise classes, knitting and quilting groups, Bingo, Dominoes, line dancing, Wii games, a book club and monthly educational programs. Lunch is offered on Wednesdays and Fridays, but the kitchen is open daily during the week with volunteers preparing and packaging up to 89 hot lunches for delivery.
Lisa Tulp, Senior Center Administrator, who works through Catholic Charities Senior Care Services, took groups of students through the kitchen, explaining who each volunteer was and what they were doing. The students watched as hot lunches were packed in containers sealed in plastic, accompanied by fruit cups. Tulp told the students that the food service workers were specially trained by the Kansas City Health Department and regular inspections were made to ensure food safety.
After the kitchen tour, Tulp introduced the students, who were in the fourth and fifth grades, to some of the seniors, who were seated at tables playing dominoes, knitting or just chatting. She said that earlier, some of the younger students had served bottled water and granola bars to members of the exercise class. A woman walked by, smiling broadly while unwrapping her granola bar, and said, “What cute kids!”
The students were lugging big bags of crayons and colored markers. Tulp sat them at tables with brown paper bags. Their project was to decorate Valentine’s Day lunch bags for the home-bound.
Tulp told them that the hot lunch bags might be the only Valentine the home bound received, which inspired many colorful decorations.
Fourth grader Jaloni Kayla Jones liked helping the homebound by decorating the lunch bags for Valentine’s Day. “It makes me happy because I get to color, and it’s helping people get meals and Valentines!”
Fifth grader Xavier Stovall felt good about helping someone who needed some help, and some of the other boys at his table added that they knew or knew of someone who was homebound and they wanted to help.
Jordan Vassar, fourth grade, said it made her feel happy to decorate the bags, “because some people don’t have any friends, they don’t go to the store so they don’t have any food to eat. This will make them happy.”
Elizabeth Buck, fifth grade, was hard at work on a bag. She said, “I really want to make this special, help someone feel loved.” She added that there is illness in her family, so she felt a connection to the homebound.
Erin Manning and Zion Thomas, both fourth graders, agreed that the service project made them feel good. Zion added that it made her feel “happy because it might make somebody else happy.”
About 100 students took turns giving a day of service to the Senior Center. Besides touring the kitchen and decorating lunch bags, they also served refreshments to the exercise class, helped organize the Senior Library, and cleaned the Senior Center, which turns into the parish hall evenings and weekends.
Tulp said the service day was an opportunity to show the children of Christ the King School the strong legacy of service in their community, encourage volunteerism and promote Catholic Schools Week. There were to be other activities during the week. o
For more information on Christ the King Senior Center or to make a lunch reservation, contact Lisa Tulp (816) 984- 8765, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Catholic Charities, visit www.catholiccharities-kcsj.org. For more information on Christ the King School, visit www.ctkkcmo.org.