by Angelina Fierko '22, Senior Communications Intern
Displayed in every classroom, students turn towards Notre Dame’s Mercy Core Values of Respect, Integrity, Justice, Compassion, and Service to guide them. Because the season of giving is upon us, the core value of service becomes particularly important: “Service: We joyfully extend our energy and resources on behalf of the poor, sick and uneducated working to relieve misery and address its causes where possible.”
The Honors Religion Service course, taught by Dr. Ellieen Ingbristen, allows students to extend their giving abilities beyond the walls of the school and into the grounds of the community. Students participate in hands-on service and are encouraged to take charge of their own projects. They are introduced to a whole new perspective on what it means to truly give back.
“The Honors Religion Service Course allows students who have the common goal of helping the community to come together to work on different programs,” says Nina Consiglio ‘22, a devoted member of the service class.
As we approach the season of giving, the class is working especially hard on this goal. During the week of Halloween, the class hosted students from Sprouts U School of Arts, located in Trenton. A festive Trunk-or-Treat was set up in ND’s parking lot for the Sprouts students to Trick-or-Treat. They spent time with ND students, worked on crafts, and got lots of candy!
“It gives the children an experience they might not have been able to have outside of this environment and makes Halloween really special for them,” says class member Layla Gojaniuk ‘22.
Outside the Honors Religion Service course, all Notre Dame students are required to complete a certain number of service hours per grade, but many strive to go beyond these requirements. The Notre Dame Service Program inspires students to apply their faith in ways that benefit local and global communities. Notre Dame student clubs and groups organize numerous service projects throughout the school year.
For example, The ND Cares Club hosts the annual PinkOut activities every October. Beyond this, they offer a wide variety of service opportunities. In December, they host an Adopt a Family program where children are able to pick out gifts they would like to give to their parents or guardians. Students are also able to participate in Boxes of Sunshine. Snacks, treats and fun items, that are meant to make the recipients smile, are assembled and distributed to those in need living in the Bucks and Mercer County areas.
During Thanksgiving, students donate different types of holiday foods to families who do not have the opportunity to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving. This year, the ND community donated 2,180 food items to Mt. Carmel Guild, an organization that Notre Dame has worked with for many years.
Notre Dame also works hard to reach beyond the local community. The Operation Smile Program is a global organization that helps provide for children with untreated cleft conditions. In Notre Dame’s own chapter of Operation Smile, the club recently gathered to create hospital gowns for children under-going this life changing surgery. “We are helping kids in third world countries. A high school student in New Jersey can make a difference for people anywhere” Gojaniuk ‘22 says.
With over 35,000 service hours completed each year by the student body, service is truly at the core of a Notre Dame education. It may look like just a number, but it represents food on a dinner table, a day of laughter, or a large smile on a child miles away. To the Notre Dame family, 35,000 hours represents a year of following the important Mercy Core value of Service.