Students and staff at Father Lacombe Catholic School are making a difference this Christmas on both local and global scales.
With its ‘Santa’s Shack’ program recently finished and its ‘Giving Tree’ project about to wrap up as well, Father Lacombe is supporting both the Philippines typhoon relief effort and the local Santa’s Anonymous program.
Principal Denis Côté said that the two programs are not related but both are examples of the type of behaviour the school wishes to instill in its students. He added that the students are constantly taught to share God’s gifts with the rest of the world wherever possible.
“It’s just normal for our kids and our staff to give. It becomes automatic with our students to share with everyone around us.”
Côté said the Giving Tree is an initiative that has been running every year since long before he came to the school two years ago. It begins each year during the first week of Advent.
A tree is set up at the school decorated with several ornamental tags. Each tag has the an age and gender on it. Students and staff take tags from the tree and purchase a gift for that age and gender and then place it under the tree.
When the project wraps up tomorrow, Dec. 13, the gifts will be taken and donated to the Santa’s Anonymous program run through Lacombe FCSS and Lacombe Kinsmen.
Côté said each year there is typically a small mountain of gifts that usually fill up one or two trucks or vans and he is expecting a similar response this year.
This year, the students at Father Lacombe came up with an additional initiative of their own to lend a hand to the victims of the Philippines typhoon.
Côte said the project began when he was approached by a group of Grade 9 students seeking his blessing to start a project that would benefit the relief efforts.
“I said by all means,” said Côté. He added he gave the students two conditions, the project must go through the student council and must be inclusive of the whole school.
What the students came up with was Santa’s Shack. From Dec. 2-5, Grade 9 students ran a sort of canteen twice a day during recesses where students could buy baked goods, hot chocolate, other confectionary items, even have their faces painted with funds going to benefit the Philippines.
Through the Santa’s Shack and a $650 donation from Côté in lieu of staff Christmas gifts, Father Lacombe was able to raise $1,530.20 to benefit the Philippines typhoon cause.
Côté said the donation will be matched by the federal government for a total of $3,060.40. Côté reiterated that students at Father Lacombe are constantly taught the importance of sharing. As such, he was not surprised that it was the students who showed the initiative for the Santa’s Shack program, but it was still impressive.
“It’s incredible.” He added that the initiative coming from the Grade 9 students, the most senior students at the school, shows great mentorship from the older students.
Projects like the Giving Tree and Santa’s Shack help to instill charity as part of students lifestyles, said Côté. He said that, through such projects, students begin to have the qualities of being good people ingrained in themselves.