Catholic schools exist to teach and live the tenets of the faith, model virtues and serve others. Service projects ramp up during the holidays when local charities and communities demonstrate need even more than other times throughout the year.

In the Diocese of Phoenix, service and charity take many forms. However, due to health and safety restrictions related to COVID-19, this year schools are doing charity collections. Queen of Peace Catholic School in Mesa collected names from two senior citizen centers in Mesa and have a Giving Tree to collect items for seniors who do not receive much family support. “In previous years,” said principal Renee Baeza, “the 8th grade students would deliver the collected gifts, but this year we will collect and drop off the gifts. This is unfortunate because I think the visit sometimes brings more joy than the gifts themselves.”

At San Francisco de Asis Catholic School in Flagstaff, each class is collecting socks and coats for Catholic Charities. Principal Bill Carroll shared, “Catholic Charities is always in need of these items in the winter. We do this collection every year, but this year we are encouraging a strong spirit of giving by learning more from Catholic Charities about the people they help and sharing that information with the students.”

Catholic Education Arizona teamed up with St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School after learning of increased need in South Phoenix this year. Each year, St. Catherine students participate in service after collecting toys for Mary’s Ministry in south Phoenix. This year the focus is on collecting items that will be dropped off. Principal Xochitl Ramirez stated, “There is a greater need this year. The number of people in line for food boxes on Saturdays has increased from the typical one block to four blocks long. The same people lined up for food are typically the same people who come for the toy distribution event.” CEA will participate by collecting food and toys for Mary’s Ministry and combining their collections with those of the St. Catherine of Siena community.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School is spreading joy as well as meeting a need this year. According to Principal Dr. Kelly Shewbridge, each class will decorate a small Christmas tree that will be distributed to the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home. Students are also collecting diapers. “The diaper drive is something we did years ago and are now renewing,” shared Dr. Shewbridge. “The diapers we collect will benefit the Diaper Bank of Central Arizona. Specifically, we are asking for sizes 4, 5, and 6 as those are most needed. The Diaper Bank provides diapers to anyone in need, from infants to adults. We hope to get full class participation for this drive as our goal.”

Annunciation Catholic School in Cave Creek looks to attain a goal of collecting 300 sets of pajamas for foster children this Christmas. If the goal is reached, students will receive a “Pajama Day” at school December 17th.

There is no shortage of need this year. CEA is proud to support schools and parish communities that answer the call for generosity.