Catholic school students’ Lenten project raises $3,600 for homes in Haiti

Clarks Mills students surpass ‘House for Haiti’ goal thanks to community support

CLARKS MILLS — Brick by brick, this community has demonstrated just how much it wants to help less fortunate people in the world.

At the beginning of March, the seventh- and eighth-grade students in Carol Schmitz’s religion class at St. Mary/St. Michael Catholic School decided to raise $2,500 — the amount needed to build a basic, multi-room house in Haiti.

Standing near their House for Haiti “bricks” at St. Mary/St. Michael Catholic School are, back row, teacher Carol Schmitz, left, Erin C., Brittany R., Madeline E. and Matthew V.; front row: Luke R., Megan V. and Gretchen Z. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)

Their House for Haiti project was inspired by information presented by Cross Catholic Outreach ministries, as well as a video clip they saw in another class.

To achieve their mission, Schmitz suggested to the students that they sell “bricks” for $25 each. Schmitz said she anticipated it would take several months, maybe even a year, to reach the $2,500 goal. Instead, it took about five weeks to surpass that mark.

As of April 6, the students had raised $3,600 from community members, area parishioners, fellow classmates, teachers, family members and the religious education program. Numerous people contributed money in honor of loved ones who have passed away.

“I always knew our community was giving, but I never thought we’d reach our goal as quickly as we did,” said Schmitz, noting that the students could have selected a smaller financial goal but they opted for the loftiest goal the program offered. “I thought it was a pretty big goal — it might take a few months or even a year — but our community showed they have big hearts. Our entire community has really stepped up.”

Rick Hamacher, the school principal, added, “The project is outstanding. It’s going much better than I ever would have anticipated.”

Students in the class include eighth-graders Madeline Ebert, Gretchen Zipperer and Matthew Van Dyke, and seventh-graders Erin Choat, Brittany Robles, Luke Risse and Megan Van Dyke.

The “bricks” (which are papers with donors’ names written on them) are pieced together in the shape of a house on a wall in the school’s main hallway. The students raised so much money that a portion of the surplus will be used to build a water system for the home.

The fundraising effort will end at Easter, but everyone involved with the project is looking forward to seeing pictures of the house once it is finished.

“The force of a few positive people can change an entire environment,” Schmitz said. “Everyone is so excited and so proud of these kids.”