The Catholic Commentator 

August 28 will forever be marked as an historical day for residents of southeast Texas much like Aug. 12 is for Baton Rouge flood victims and Aug. 29 for victims of Hurricane Katrina. But, what Hurricane Harvey did not destroy was willpower and good will, both coming from south Louisiana neighbors who simply understand.  

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Andrew, Claire, Grace and Evan Aguillard raised $460 for St. Jean Vianney Preschool hurricane donations with their lemonade and cookie stand in their neighborhood.  


For Catholic school students, donations to storm victims turned into a lesson of charity and giving. Cheryl Santangelo, principal at Mater Dolorosa School in Independence, wanted to teach students “how important it is to give from the heart.” The school partnered with Post Acute Medical’s sister hospital in Beaumont, Texas to provide care packages filled with soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, razors and other personal items.  

A number of schools, including St. Alphonsus Liguori in Greenwell Springs, St. Peter Chanel in Paulina and St. Jean Vianney in Baton Rouge, used “dress down” days to collect donations for the Diocese of Houston, the National Catholic Education Association campaign for hurricane recovery and True Cross Catholic School in Dickinson, Texas, respectively.  

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Above, left, Ascension Catholic High students stuffed backpacks with donated school supplies.  Above right, the stuffed backpacks filled the library at Ascension School, waiting to be delivered.  


“Our parents are always conscious about finding ways to pay it forward because they flooded last year and the school flooded also,” said St. Jean Vianney principal Wendy Ross.  

St. Jean Vianney Preschool also got involved in raising money for relief efforts.  

“Our children performed chores at home to earn money,” said preschool director Amie Williams. “That, along with parent donations, raised $1,215.”  

Part of that total, $460, came from one family’s lemonade and cookie stand. One week after the storm hit, Kelly and Mindy Aguillard, members of St. Jean Vianney Church, and their four children, Andrew, 7, Evan, 6, Grace, 4, and Claire, 3, set up the stand in their Walker neighborhood. Mindy said it was easy for the children to manage the money because there was no price on the goodies, only donations were accepted so that the children didn’t have to make change. Grace and Claire attend SJV Preschool.  

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Mater Dolorosa School students donated school supplies and other items to help with hurricane relief efforts in Texas.


“We had family members who flooded and came to our house to do laundry or cooking and their grandmother had to live with us for five months because of the flooding, so they understand the impact of flooding,” said Mindy. “It was so great to see people who wanted to help other people. Evan said, ‘Maybe this will help someone to have a bed to sleep on.’ ”  

Holy Family School in Port Allen and St. Aloysius School in Baton Rouge combined their casual dress day donations, $5 gift cards from Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart, for a total of $16,000 for St. Catherine of Sienna in Port Arthur, Texas.  

“Last year in the flood, we had several students affected, and a school in Texas supported them through that, so this year, we decided to help out a school in Texas,” said Michael Comeau, principal of Holy Family School. “We were just overwhelmed by the positive response from both parents and students.”  

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Faculty and students gathered to celebrate $16,000 in gift card donations raised by St. Aloysius and Holy Family Schools.


St. Catherine of Sienna also received 182 backpacks stuffed with school supplies, along with $4,500 in gift cards, from Ascension Catholic School and Church in Donaldsonville. Elementary school students donated the school supplies while the high school students donated the backpacks.  

Fifth- and sixth-grade students at St. Joseph School in Pontchatoula collected buckets and cleaning supplies for relief efforts. And, first-grade teacher Sara Andre at Catholic Elementary School of Pointe Coupee collected items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, coloring books and crayons and filled more than 200 bags for distribution at two Texas churches.  

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Above, left, SMHS students Shore Fleury, Connor Cavalier, Molly Smith and Calob Edwards with St. Michael Campus Ministry Director Emily Froeba hold up gift cards collected for hurricane victims at Msgr. Kelly High School in Beaumont, Texas.  Above, right, SMHS students Brock Sanders, Trey Parker and Shore Fleury prepare the donated gift cards for delivery to Texas.  


Students at Holy Ghost School in Hammond donated their September stewardship to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. According to teacher Cindy Wagner, they dressed in their choice of rainbow colors to “be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud” and donated more than $3,500 to relief efforts. Also, the school’s 4H Club is collecting books to be donated to schools in Texas.   

At St. Michael High School in Baton Rouge, campus ministry leaders Trey Parker and Brock Sanders spearheaded a drive to collect gift cards for Msgr. Kelly Catholic High in Beaumont, Texas. Parker said students, faculty and staff were motivated to help hurricane relief efforts after seeing the aftermath on the news.  

“We were able to relate to it in a very special way because we understand the sorrow and pain they were going through,” said Parker. “We knew what they needed like bleach and gloves and all the stuff needed to tear down drywall.”  

Sanders, who makes the morning announcements, reminded students daily to turn in gift cards to their homeroom teachers. The final tally was more than $2,000 in donations.  

“The response was a lot more than I expected. Honestly, I thought people would forget about the flood last year, but they remembered what it was like and so they wanted to help others going through it,” he said.  

Parker said helping others was also part of what students were learning for the monthly ministry. The month of September was dedicated to “We are called to Community.”  

“We were focusing on the fact that we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said. “So, we thought, let’s do something to aid them because that is what we are called to do as a community.

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 Student at Holy Ghosts dressed in colors of a rainbow.