Release Date: 8/24/2010
Back-to-School drive supplies fill four vechicles, help many kids in need
A few of the grateful recipients of school supplies.
He was just a tiny little thing, no more than three feet tall, but he hoisted his Elmo-themed backpack with palpable pride Saturday as he headed out the door of the Franciscan Connection offices in south St. Louis.
And Renee Rockwell was watching him. Rockwell heads the Mission Team’s Outreach Committee and served as chair of this year’s Back-To-School drive at St. Anthony’s, one of several organizations that supplied backpacks to the Franciscan Connection.
“You should have seen the smile on his face,” Rockwell recalled. “It was heartwarming and heart-wrenching at the same time. The good part was we were there to see the smiles on the kids’ faces. I only wish that our staff could have seen those smiles—that was really cool stuff. Thanks to the huge generosity of our employees, this year’s response with the Back-To-School drive exceeded all expectations.”
This year, St. Anthony’s employees came through with some 250 backpacks, 1,250 folders, 900 spiral notebooks, 4,400 pens and much more in the annual drive, which ended last week. As part of a service project, Boy Scouts from a troop based at Seven Holy Founders Catholic School invested much energy sorting, counting and boxing the items, which filled four pallets and was taken away in two minivans and two pickup trucks. They provided many low-income children in south St. Louis with the basic necessities needed to learn and succeed this school year.
“It was pretty impressive,” said Sister Sandra Straub, director of Mission Integration and Pastoral Care, who also was on hand for the backpack distribution at Franciscan Connection on Saturday. “The backpacks didn’t just come in empty. You just knew the people at St. Anthony’s were very, very generous.”
Recently, a community resident asked Sister Sandra why the medical center would host a back-to-school drive when it deals in health care.
“I think that’s a very good question,” she said. “From a standpoint of mission integration, you extend good health to the community from birth to death. In addition to good health, you extend a sense of community to the community you’re serving. Because we’re a community health care organization, we follow a model of servant leadership. We not only do outreach, but work to build community.”
It all ties in with the third value in St. Anthony’s mission goals, Rockwell said: “We express compassion and respect for all persons served and those serving.”
Special thanks go to the “barrel bosses,” who oversaw the collection of supplies in their respective departments; to Diane Kaufman and Bernie Ceriotti, who handled all the details; and to Rich Bonk, who set up and took down all the barrels. Their enthusiasm was remarkable, Sister Sandra said. Barrel bosses included Susan Wissmann, Kenneth Jacobs, Barbara Stephens, Cathy Burke, Dianna Murphy, Kelli Cox, Jamie Nobbe, Amanda Johnston, Helga Hintze, Anjeanette Soltysiak, Christina Roeder, Bonnie Diamond and Holly Fromenton. Some individual departments also made an extra effort: employees of the Laboratory, for instance, made the effort into a contest with points, turning a good cause into a good time.
To receive backpacks from the Franciscan Connection, families must first complete an application form. Volunteers at the Franciscan Connection filled the backpacks with supplies on Aug. 12, and the families came in on Saturday for their backpacks, after which they wrote thank-you notes to the organizations that supplied them. One mom had seven foster children in tow, Sister Sandra recalled.
“The pressure and stress on moms who don’t have much is tangible,” she said. “When you’re a part of watching this happen, you know that there are people out there who are hurting financially.”
To each of the generous employees at St. Anthony’s, Rockwell hopes this bible verse will be fulfilled: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
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