Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Ps 100:4-5
At RCLS, where our mission is to shape kids who are Grounded in Grace, Formed in Faith, and Committed to Learning for Life, service is a core value. The generosity that our students practice is fostered through a traditional weekly chapel collection as well as through special projects, such as when our Chapel Families packed student-donated items into 68 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes last week. Service is not an afterthought or even an “add on” to education at RCLS. Instead, it underlies and is integrated into the curriculum, designed to shape not just minds, but hearts, as well.
Not coincidentally, a special service project is planned each November, just before Thanksgiving as we are collectively giving thanks. “Gratitude is what you feel,” says Tim Keller. But thanksgiving? “Thanksgiving is what you do.” In the days just before Thanksgiving, then, we do.
We’re trying to foster both at RCLS, the feeling and the doing, that is. Both were on full display in RCLS’s new Clubhouse this week as nearly 400 students picked from more than 2000 donated items to pack 68 Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children around the world.
“I think she would like a pink shirt!”
“Ooh…this is fun to play with. Let’s send this.”
“Let’s give him the big box of crayons.”
Thanksgiving? Yes, yes.
In a school that inspires every single day, I can tell you that it is outright moving to see hundreds of kids actively thinking about others. On Wednesdays, little learners climb out of their cars with coins jingling in their backpacks and some carrying their offerings tenderly wrapped in tissue or paper. During service projects, older students lead their younger counterparts as they direct Chapel Family members to give thanksgiving with their words and deeds. Indeed, our older students––particularly our 8th graders––are part of both the planning and execution of the generosity that engages the entire student body every week. Each September, the 8th-grade class generates ideas for recipients of RCLS’s giving and service. Then, in groups, the students research possible organizations to support, and they present their respective causes to the whole class, which then votes on where the school will direct its giving and service for the school year.
Because they have done the research, persuading, and leading, I wanted to give the 8th graders a chance to tell you about the organizations they selected to support this year. Please read what they have to say. Then, partner with us to encourage thanksgiving in the hearts and minds of your own children. We love to hear about all the ways our families do that.
Not sure how? Our 8th graders have some ideas about where to start!
October: Our October Chapel offering was directed to support Lutheran High School of Greater New Orleans, a school down South that was affected by Hurricane Ida. We collected money so we could help them rebuild their roof that was destroyed. We hope that our sum of money will help them repair their roof and help them get back in school as early as possible.
November: This month RCLS has decided to support Operation Christmas Child as one of our chapel projects. This organization's cause is to help children in need around the world get a shoebox filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene products. Samaritan’s Purse then delivers gifts to children in need. Operation Christmas Child's cause is very important; not only does this organization help children in need but the organization also shows God's love and teaches kids more about the gospel. One of the most important things here at RCLS is showing and sharing God's love. This is one of the main reasons why we have chosen this as one of our chapel projects. For more information about this month’s project here's the website: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/
December: After Thanksgiving, RCLS will direct support to the Rochester Ronald McDonald House as a chapel project. The cause of Ronald McDonald is to provide a place to stay for people who are visiting Mayo Clinic for medical care. It's also for people traveling to Mayo Clinic who don't have enough money to stay in a hotel for numerous nights. To help Ronald McDonald, you can donate several things such as books, board games, toys, blankets, canned food, supplies for activities, and hygiene products. In December, we will focus our attention on collecting games and toys for kids and families who stay at the Rochester home. I think this cause is important because not everyone is prepared to find somewhere to stay when their child needs to find medical help fast. Many families travel from different states to get the care their sick child needs. Specifically, children or young teens that are sick will be impacted by this cause because the Ronald McDonald House depends on donations to provide a comfortable stay for families. Helping them would be an extra push to motivate them to spread their kind works. You can read more or reach out to them through their website. https://www.rmhmn.org/
January: The organization my group is supporting is called Holy Cross Care Portal. The Holy Cross Care Portal is a platform that helps Christian families that are in crisis get coordinated with local people and social organizations to help them. It is important to support this organization because we need to support fellow Christians and people in general through tough times.
February-March: Heifer International is an organization that distributes farm animals to impoverished people around the world. Anyone can raise money to help them supply farm animals, so this is how we will direct our chapel offerings in February and March. This is important because many people do not have eggs or milk just sitting around in their fridge. This organization will help them have those things with these animals. When students bring chapel offerings, they can greatly impact people around the world who receive these animals. Read more about this organization on their website: https://www.heifer.org/
April-May: The last chapel project of the year is Feed My Starving Children. An estimated 6,200 children die each day of cases relating to malnutrition. The meals that this organization makes gives much needed nutrients to prevent malnutrition. When children have nutrients and a full stomach, they can grow and enjoy their childhood. The goal of Feed my Starving Children is to have families thrive by themselves and have a full and happy stomach. There are packing events in the Twin Cities and southeast Minnesota that families can volunteer at. We will be sending our chapel offerings to this organization so that they can purchase food. Children and families all over the world will be impacted. Learn more at https://www.fmsc.org/