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Mount Carmel High School sophomores spent the week out of the classroom to perform service projects in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.  “Impact Week” allows students to provide aid and assistance for organizations in a hands-on way. Sophomore Impact week focuses on the theme of hunger and poverty. Students learn about the systemic forces that limit opportunities for many in our society and engage service to food banks, community food pantries, and organizations that provide direct help to under-resourced communities in our own area and worldwide.

In four days of work, the sophomore class, faculty, and staff spread out to help 17 organizations, including Feed My Starving Children, Northwest Indiana Food Pantry, and Catholic Charities, for a total of 600 hours of service.

“The task of doing it by hand forces you to put things in perspective so we actually can see what goes into this fight against hunger,” said sophomore Blake Lopez (Crown Point, IN).  “These aren’t just numbers that we’re trying to reach. These are people [who] we are helping out so it's our duty as people [and also] as Catholics to do what we can to help.”

Students packed food, cleaned shelters for the homeless, and also personally interacted with community members in the hopes of an unforgettable experience.  That rang extremely true for sophomore Sebastian Manriquez (Lansing, IL).

“This week really opened my eyes and honestly might have been one of the best things to happen to me,”  said Manriquez when reflecting on his Impact Week. “You can make someone’s day in just a few minutes and it’s something we should step back and think about because not everyone has a shoulder to lean on [every day].”

Manriquez went above and beyond during his time at Little Brothers: Friends of the Elderly Chicago chapter.  With bilingual skills, Manriquez was able to converse with the Spanish-speaking elders and also be a BINGO caller in English and Spanish.  His time interacting with the residents was “incredible” as he saw the joy on their faces because they were to meet someone new.

“It feels good to make this type of impact and meet these great people,” said Manriquez.  “I know I may not receive a tangible reward but I definitely earned [a reward] spiritually and physically.”

With 600 hours of service, the students kept busy and kept the energy high especially through the competitive format at Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville, IL.  Groups of students competed with each other to see who could pack more boxes of food to be sent to third world countries thanks to the encouragement from the facility’s staff.

“They really knew how to motivate us and they made it fun while we made a difference,” said sophomore Sean Goosherst (Beverly, Chicago).  “It’s great to see how much food we packed in the span of just an hour.” During two days of service at Feed my Starving Children, students packed enough food to feed nearly 230 children for one year.

The rewarding experience for the entire sophomore class offered a unique viewpoint of what some people go through on a day-to-day basis.  The entire week was capped off with an all-class mass in the school’s chapel as a reminder of why the week of service was so important.

“We want focus on the message the Gospel sends us to see, to act, and to help those in our community to make God’s Kingdom come,” said Mr. John Stimler (Lincoln Square, Chicago). “Thank you to all of those organizations that brought our students in to work side-by-side with you in your daily work as we helped impact throughout the week.”


Living with Zeal for God, for Life, for Learning