By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator  

Shortly before the start of the 10 a.m. Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Gerard Majella Church in Baton Rouge, a trailer from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge was set up in the parking lot to accept donations from hundreds of school children and faculty members who would be arriving soon.  

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During Catholic Schools Week, students from throughout the Diocese of Baton Rouge donate items for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Students have averaged $17,500 in donations annually to Catholic Charities. The items are distributed throughout the year. Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator 


Within 45 minutes, the trailer was full, weighed down with lawn-sized garbage bags filled with donations, boxes of kitchen items, cookware, diapers, baby wipes and baby shampoo. The donations to Catholic Charities are an important part of Catholic Schools Week “to emphasize our commitment to social justice and service to others as a community,” according to Michael Miller, assistant superintendent for Catholic schools in the diocese and coordinator of the donation drive.  

“I believe that this teaches students that as followers of Christ we are called to help and serve others outside out own school and parish communities,” said Miller. “Our actions and our deeds as well as our life should reflect that call.”  

“It’s very important to give donations because everybody deserves to have a very healthy life,” said Carli Bourgeois, a sixth-grader at St. Peter Chanel School in Paulina. “We need to treat people the way they deserve to be treated.”  

The donations were taken to a warehouse to be distributed to clients served by all of the agencies at Catholic Charities. Stephanie Sterling, a member of the executive team at Catholic Charities, said the items last for an entire year.  

“Around the time that the Catholic Schools Week distribution comes up again, we’re at the end of those donations,” said Sterling.  

She said the donations are also used to help other areas of the diocese without other available resources. Catholic school students have averaged $17,500 in donations annually to Catholic Charities.  

“The donations are extremely important and beneficial to the clients we serve who are in dire need of basic items,” Sterling said. “The clients that we help include pregnant homeless women, formerly incarcerated men, refugees new to our country, newly formed families. A lot of the donations go to new moms, who need basic items.”  

Braylin Wright, an eighth-grade student at Mater Dolorosa School in Independence, believed it was good “to bring us all together to help out others because that’s what Jesus wants us to do.”  

Before Mass, students and their principals carried gifts representing their donations to the altar.