The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 13, 2001 Issue
Local News

Lenten collection plans quadruple

Green Bay first graders have a brush - several - with children in Haiti

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Debbie Rogers' first grade class at St. Philip the Apostle School, Green Bay, set a goal on Ash Wednesday. As part of an all-school Lenten project, the students set out to collect 200 toothbrushes for the children of St. Anne Parish in Thomazeau, Haiti, St. Philip's sister parish.

"Some people bought some," said first grader Katie Rabas.

"Some dentists gave them to us," said classmate Michael Fisher.

"After a few days, I decided to make a few phone calls to local dentists and dental supply companies to see whether any of these people would be able to help us reach our goal," said Rogers. "Our first large donation of four dozen toothbrushes came from Patterson Dental Supply Inc."

The number of toothbrushes grew as students saved their money to buy more or asked dentists for donations. One dentist contacted Colgate on behalf of the class to obtain more toothbrushes.

"We soon reached our goal of 200, but the students were not ready to stop," said Rogers. "We set a new goal of 500."

The revised goal was quickly surpassed. The students have collected more than 800 toothbrushes during Lent.

"This has been a very positive experience for not only the children, but for all those people who were able to make a difference by donating toothbrushes," said Rogers.

When Lee Meyer, a representative from Patterson Dental Supply Inc. brought toothbrushes to the classroom, the excitement of the children brought tears to his eyes, said Rogers.

Each grade at St. Philip's was asked to collect specific items. In addition to toothbrushes, students at the school collected pencils, toys, Band-Aids and baby items. The third grade class created a prayer chain to be sent to Thomazeau.

"We collected onesies, bottles and diapers," said seventh grader Brandon Szczepanski. "We asked our neighbors if they had any left over items."

The items will be delivered during the next parish mission trip to Haiti. Fr. Larry Canavera, pastor at St. Philip's, and members of the parish make regular visits to Haiti to bring supplies and assist the people of Thomazeau.

"Fr. Larry has talked to our class about Haiti," said seventh grader Emily Gille. "I am glad we are able to help."

Fr. Canavera shared a story with the students about a mother who was so poor that she could not care for her children. She brought one of her children to an orphanage to ensure the child's safety.

"Things are so much different there than they are here," said Rogers. "Many of the people have no running water or no heat. People who visit there are always amazed how happy they are despite how little they have. It makes you realize what is important in life."

"Lent is a time for each of us to not think about what we want, but about what we can do to help someone else in need," she added. "The children have learned that they are truly acting as disciples of Jesus by helping others, and that helping others can be fun."

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