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‘Offer hearts to love and hands to serve’

In early March, Emma Koch, a freshman at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, organized a service project to assist a family in need.

“I heard that a local family lost everything in a house fire and I couldn’t even imagine what that would be like,” she said. Koch, a resident of Montclair, learned that a fire had consumed a neighbor’s home. Although no one was hurt, many of the family’s possessions were destroyed. She decided to coordinate a donation drive for the family at John Paul the Great.

To find out what the family needed, Koch reached out to the parents who, with six small children under 8, made modest requests for children’s items such as clothes and diapers. Next, she approached Emma Boyle, chair of the Social Studies Department and a leader for the House of Ruiz. The House System often runs charitable events, and Koch asked Boyle if her house could be involved. Boyle said she was “happy to serve as the collection point for items, and to help Emma understand the process of having a service activity approved.”

Once they began accepting donations, they were pleasantly surprised by the volume of goods that poured in. Originally scheduled to run March 7-10, the drive was so successful that it was extended through March 14. In addition to the goods requested, donations also included school supplies, gift cards and toys.

English teacher Anna Foster praised Koch for her leadership in making the drive a success. “I was impressed by Emma’s advocacy on behalf of this family and her enthusiastic response to God’s call to love and serve her neighbor,” she said. “She made announcements to the community, posted flyers throughout the school, and provided her community with the inspiration and opportunity to serve.”

When asked about the success of the drive, Koch’s eyes lit up. “We had bags and bags of donations sent our way.” She said that her parents made several trips to transport the donations to their home, where the items were stored until being delivered to the family.

Extremely thankful to those who donated to the drive, Koch was happy with the community support. “I wanted this family to know that even if they feel helpless in this situation, there are people willing to help out and send a little bit of love their way,” she said.

For those interested in offering support to the family, a GoFundMe campaign has been established. More than $1,900 of the $20,000 goal has been raised.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017