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
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