by Cori Hilsgen
All Saints Academy students donated 132 shoeboxes to Place of Hope for an Advent project, surpassing their goal of donating 100 boxes.
Second-grade teacher Betty Pundsack organized the project with some help from school cook Mary Kay Pelkey and other staff members.
For the project, students in preschool through sixth grade were encouraged to bring small items that would fit into a shoebox. Items were collected in bins labeled according to age and gender. Students also created wrapping paper.
On a selected day, donated items were placed on tables in the school lunch room and the shoeboxes were divided among the tables. Students from each grade placed a variety of items in the boxes. Staff members checked the boxes to make sure items were equally distributed.
Parent volunteers and student ambassadors coordinated the wrapping of the boxes. Children in all grades helped with wrapping and labeling the boxes.
After the boxes were wrapped, they were transported by the school custodian Andy Loso to the Place of Hope for the children’s’ Christmas event.
The boxes donated included various small toys, stuffed animals, hats, gloves, socks, candy, pencils, notebooks, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Pundsack said ASA has participated in this project for more than 10 years. She said they chose Place of Hope because of its programs involving children; many of whom are homeless and living on site, in motels, in their parents’ cars, in fish houses and other locations.
Pundsack said the St. Joseph ASA campus includes a “service to others” component as part of its mission.
“This project is successful due to the generosity of time, talent and treasure from our entire school community,” Pundsack said. “We have a grandparent that brings hats, mittens and socks so each box will contain those items. This year a doll without clothing was donated and our administrative assistant Linda Heinen purchased infant clothing so the doll would be dressed for the occasion. That’s probably the finest aspect of this project, the true spirit of Christmas in action.”
Place of Hope serves anyone in need in the Tri-County area. It’s goal is to provide a safe, welcoming place for anyone in need of a meal, housing, “hope” or other services. It’s located at 511 9th Ave. N., St. Cloud.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.