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Teachers spend Pro-D day serving the poor

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Homeless at Covenant House, Door is Open receive lunch, clothes
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Photo: Teachers from St. Francis Xavier elementary give out free lunches at The Door is Open. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

Students from St. Francis Xavier Elementary may have had the day off April 28, but their teachers were hard at work.

For the fifth year in a row, the school’s educators spent a Pro-D (professional development) day sorting donated clothing and serving meals for Vancouver’s less fortunate.

“Everybody here is blessed in so many ways with so many talents, so to take a day and sort clothes or cook soup, we’re happy to do it,” said principal Brian Fader.

Fader and half of the teaching staff spent the better part of the day sorting through massive piles of shoes and clothing in an underground garage at Covenant House, a refuge for homeless youth, April 28.

The other half of the team travelled to The Door is Open, a drop-in centre on Cordova Street, where they got a lesson in social justice and spent the afternoon making and serving soup and sandwiches for the poor and homeless.

“It’s great for staff unity. Everyone is involved and enjoys it,” Fader said. It’s also a good lesson for the students, who would hear about it on the following Monday.

“We always take pictures and show the students” to “set a pretty obvious example that we have to help those less fortunate than us.”

Special education assistant Dina Tomei is new to the elementary school, but she has been taking her own children to The Door is Open for years.

“I don’t preach what I don’t practise,” she said. “When people are at the top saying, ‘We should do this’ and not putting those practices into use every day, they forget or are a bit detached from what they are doing.”

Volunteering to serve the poor presents many teachable moments, she said.

“We’re too quick to pass judgments. I think the more educated we are, the more compassionate we become, and the more we can understand what’s happening and not alienate this section of society.”

Teacher Lauren Angelucci said although her Grade 2 students had the day off, she invited them to get involved in the effort anyway by donating socks she could take to Covenant House.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to do this for a Pro-D day. It’s good to be in a Catholic community where this is one of our priorities.”

Angelucci and her colleagues discovered Converse brand shoes and nearly new clothing as they rifled through a giant mound of donated items.

“I’m amazed with the generosity of people who have donated. We’re finding a lot of great finds and I’m happy they are going on to people in need.”

Fader said St. Francis Xavier is a school that takes social justice seriously by regularly hosting fundraisers for various charities. “We try to keep it upfront in the kids’ minds,” he said.

“I’m very much inspired by Pope Francis, and I’m old enough to remember the good work done by Mother Teresa, too, so those are two big inspirations behind something like this.”

Photo: Teachers sort through a massive mound of donated items at Covenant House. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

Last Updated on Monday, 15 May 2017 09:51  

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