The first week of school ended on a charitable note when students from All Saints School in Manassas presented Father Keith O’Hare, a priest serving at the Banica mission in the Dominican Republic,with a check for $6,000 to build a new house for a family in need. The students raise the money from school dress out days, ornament sales, bazaars and other events. Resource teacher Julie Petrisek proposed that the school focus on raising money for the mission, instead of splitting funds between several charities.
“Father O’Hare visited All Saints last summer and spoke at Mass about his work in Banica. Each year, the school and parish have a theme for the upcoming year and our new theme was ‘Building God's House with Kindness and Mercy,’” she said.
At last year’s Mass, Father O’Hare explained that a new home could be built with just $6,000. Petrisek was so inspired that she went immediately to Principal David Conroy who supported the idea.
The students worked hard all year to raise the money until they finally raised the last $200 before school let out in June, according to Conroy.
They invited Father O’Hare back to the school this week to give a presentation about the mission and also present him with their gift. The Fairfax native showed students a video on the mission and afterward he asked them if they noticed all the smiles on the faces of the people.
“How can they be smiling if they don’t have things?” asked Father O’Hare. Then he explained, “If you have God and people, you can be happy.”
Father O’Hare promised the students that he would keep them updated about the family they are helping and he will send photos as the house is built. The faculty and staff hope that this experience will give the students a personal connection to those they are helping.
“As teachers we are always looking for ways to make a message tangible for our students and to create a real world connection,” said Petrisek. “I hoped that our fundraising might do just that.”
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