LEWISTOWN - After Hurricane Sandy swept through the East Coast in late October, many people found themselves in the same situation as Mary and Joseph when they arrived in Bethlehem - no place to stay and little to bring them comfort.
Sacred Heart School Principal Michael Fitzgerald said this was the reason students at the school dedicated their annual Advent project to preparing over 80 Comfort Kits for the American Red Cross.
"It just fit perfectly for the kids," he explained.
Sentinel photo by JULIANNE CAHILL
Sacred Heart School students, from left, Aaron Amspacker, fourth grade; Andrew Dorsey, kindergarten; Teagan Trout, kindergarten; and Nicholas Allison, fourth grade; add travel-size personal hygiene products to American Red Cross Comfort Kits Thursday at the school.
Tressie Bender, student at Sacred Heart School, hands a completed Comfort Kit to Principal Michael Fitzgerald as Drue Meals, left, looks on Thursday at the school.
Fitzgerald said that serving others is central to the Catholic faith and this project is one of many ways the school strives to instill that virtue in its students. During the Advent season, each grade was assigned two items to collect for the care kits.
"They were excited. They would look each morning to see how much we had," he said.
On Thursday, students eagerly lined up in the hallways of the school. One by one, they made their way into a classroom decorated with tables full of supplies. As the students reached each bin of shampoo or toothpaste, they hand selected one of each item and dropped it in the white plastic bags they were carrying.
By the time students reached the end of the assembly line, their bags contained a bar of soap, a washcloth, deodorant and lotion, a toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, a comb or brush, shaving cream and tissues.
Robert Soccio, representative of the American Red Cross Susquehanna Valley and alumnus of the school, said most of the bags will be delivered to New York and New Jersey for hurricane victims.
However, a few bags will stay in Lewistown for local fire victims or emergency situations, said Howard Jackson, also a representative of the American Red Cross.
"It's amazing. The first thing they teach you (at Sacred Heart School) is manners," Soccio recalled as he glanced at tables full of Comfort Kits. "They still keep that up."
After all of the bags were filled and collected, each teacher led his or her class through the room one more time to see how many kits the students created. Fitzgerald counted more than 80.
"It made me feel good that I could help," Alyssa Souders, a fourth-grade student, said.
Fifth-grade student Tobin Miller agreed that he also was happy to send supplies to those who need assistance.
"If people don't have homes or anything ... we can give them things we have," he said.