By RENEE WEBB
HUMBOLDT – Sixth grade students at St. Mary School are taking part in a service project to bring comfort to other children.
According to Katie Phillips, sixth grade teacher at St. Mary, this is the second year her students will gather items to make care packages for children in area hospitals.
“Last year with my sixth-grade class, I wanted to start a service project to try to help them understand the importance of service and putting others before themselves,” explained Phillips. “I wanted to help them realize they can make a difference even at age 11.”
They had brain-stormed to come up with the care package idea and then Phillips dubbed the packages Brave Bags.
“We came up with a list of things children could do if they were bedridden in the hospital,” said the teacher, who noted her students were instrumental in contributing ideas for the bags. “I told the students to put themselves into the situation, what would they want to do?”
Brave Bags contain a variety of items with some bags geared toward young children and others for an older child.
Some of the items they are currently collecting are markers, crayons, coloring books, puzzle books, word searches, playing cards, travel-size toiletries, fuzzy socks, gum, mints and Chapstick. They are also collecting monetary donations.
The students have helped to spread the word about the project by placing flyers with a list of needed items throughout the community and the school’s social media is used.
“We had a goal of making 50 Brave Bags and we made 121,” the teacher said. “It turned out great.” The bags went to Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge and Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.
With last year’s success, Phillips opted to organize the project again and plans to make it an annual activity. This year the goal is to collect enough items to make 150 Brave Bags, which will be delivered to Trinity in Fort Dodge as well as the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City.
Her students are more than willing to take part in this effort and see the value in serving others.
“We are doing Brave Bags because it is a corporal work of mercy,” said Lillian Holm, a sixth grader at St. Mary’s. “We are doing God’s work to evangelize. To me it means to give a person hope, happiness and the feeling of being loved by other people.”
Claire Weydert, another sixth grader, said Brave Bags are important to her because she feels like it helps her put other people’s needs before her own. She wants to make other kids happy.
“Brave Bags are not only helping the kids who have to sit in the hospital day after day, it also teaches our class that we have to help take care of others,” added Corey Dettmann, a sixth grader.
Alana Malo, sixth grader, said she likes providing Brave Bags for kids who “don’t get to do everything we do. This means so much to me because I know I am making a big difference in someone’s life, with something so small.”
They will gather items for the bags until late January and will prepare the bags at the end of that month during Catholic Schools Week.
On Oct. 20, the sixth grade leadership team for Brave Bags is hosting a bake sale at the Chili/Cinnamon Roll Supper & Bake Sale that will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the parish center at St. Mary’s. Proceeds of the bake sale will be used for Brave Bags. Proceeds from the dinner will go for Meals from the Heartland.
“My mission with the Brave Bags was not only to help teach the corporal works of mercy and the importance of service, but also how to be compassionate to others – to put themselves in others’ shoes – and put others before themselves,” Phillips said.