Xavier High School community appreciates return to outreach day

Service is provided to the elderly, parishes and nonprofit organizations

Xavier High School seniors Nick Valinski, left, and Thomas Gear do yard cleanup as part of the Ethel Moehring Help Your Neighbor Day on Oct. 19.

APPLETON — Xavier High school students ventured into the greater Fox Valley community on Oct. 19 for the “Ethel Moehring Help Your Neighbor Day.”

Help Your Neighbor Day began in the late 1990s and has been held annually, except for last year due to COVID-19. Sarah Simon, then Xavier campus minister, developed the service day from the Young Neighbors in Action model. The idea was based on the concept that, before traveling abroad or to another city, it was important to help your neighbor at home. Simon worked with several small groups and then created an afternoon of service for the entire school. 

Each small group is composed of students representing all four grades and a teacher, parent or other adult volunteer. 

In 2015, the name “Help Your Neighbor Day” was changed to the “Ethel Moehring Help Your Neighbor Day” to honor the legacy of Moehring, a Xavier and community volunteer and supporter, and her family. The annual event embodies her spirit of helping others and brings together students, faculty and volunteers for a day of service to the elderly, area parishes and nonprofit organizations in the community.

Maddie Allen, a first-year student at Xavier High School in Appleton, trims a shrub at a home during the school’s annual service day, held this year on Oct. 19.

Residents shared their gratitude for the assistance. 

“Thank you so much for my yard cleanup and window washing. We also had a nice conversation. They all made my day,” said Patricia Hendrickson of Appleton.

“The Xavier kids were so polite and helpful. How kind of you all to help your neighbor,” said Nancy Graham, also of Appleton.

“Your students were fabulous, just fabulous. They worked hard, they had a fun attitude, they were polite, and they were so grateful for the treats,” said Donna Alferi of Neenah. “I cannot tell you how happy I am.”

The students were happy to be back serving others.

“Last year, we didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities to go do service in our communities. Being able to get back to that again was a great feeling,” said JJ Vander Loop, a sophomore and member of St. John Nepomucene Parish, Little Chute.

“Each year, I’ve done something different and each year I love it even more,” said junior Olivia Wagner of St. Mary Parish, Appleton.

First-year Xavier student Adam Michels is already looking forward to next year’s service day.

Help Your Neighbor Day 2021 was a fun, faith-filled day where we, as Xavier High School students, got to make a meaningful impact on our community,” he said. “I really feel like we helped out the people we worked with. Im looking forward to the service, friendships, praise and fun that next year’s Help Your Neighbor Day will bring.” 

Xavier High School students Fin Blohowiak (left), Andrea Brizuela, Parker Bleck, Dominic Dercks and Morgan Breed, in the pile, raked leaves at Brewster Village in Appleton on Ethel Moehring Help Your Neighbor Day, Oct. 19.

Teacher Kelli McGreevey, who is also a Xavier parent and member of St. Joseph Parish, Appleton, said, “Xavier’s Help Your Neighbor Day is a wonderful school tradition that brings staff, families, students and the community together. Students get the opportunity to serve neighbors, local parishes, assisted living facilities and the elderly in a wonderful way.” 

Jennifer McGinnis, a parent chaperone and member of St. Pius X Parish, Appleton, joined four Xavier students for raking, weeding and window washing at a woman’s home.

“The high schoolers sure worked hard and were able to engage with the woman. (It was) neat to be part of,” she said.

McGinnis also expressed her “appreciation to the Xavier staff who took the extra time in prioritizing this event even amidst pandemic safety protocols.”