Article submitted by Patty Steele, Challenge leader, sharing her experience of service with the girls in the club.
Challenge at St. Margaret of York has been a great blessing for the parish with around 50-60 girls participating each year. During 7th grade the girls from St. Margaret of York school are required to write an essay about their faith journey and many of them credit Challenge for the relationship they have with Christ!
Our club has chosen to have a theme for our Apostolic Projects for each grade along with one all club project once a year. In addition each grade is assigned a holiday that they put a basket of food and decorations together for the local Consecrated Women. This enables the Consecrated to have a special meal with all the special trimmings that they might not be able to do without the girls help!!
The 5th graders theme is “feeding the hungry” They work with the St. Vincent de Paul society at our Church by doing two food drives each year for the parish food pantry. They collect food through a scavenger hunt in the neighborhoods with a different value put on the type of food they collect. The winning team receives a prize! Their other project is to make a meal for a shelter that houses abused women and their families.
The 6th graders theme is “pro-life” and they work with a local crisis pregnancy center. They make blankets in the fall and do a baby bottle collection in the spring. Last year they collected over $700 during the baby bottle collection and the center asked that they use the money to purchase diapers. Along with the blankets and money they also collect gently used items from the parish that they deliver to the center.
The 7th graders theme is “service to the homebound of the parish” and they go visit the sick and do yard work for the elderly. They go to homes of the elderly and homebound in the fall and spring and do whatever yard work the parishioner needs help with. Last year they were able to help an elderly woman who had lost her husband to cancer the year before and hadn’t been able to do anything in her yard. She was so grateful that she wrote three different thank you notes. One to the pastor, one to the club president and one to the Challenge girls! Another project they do in the winter is to make a jar of chocolates. They rewrap the chocolates with a short inspirational quote and decorate the jars. Then when they go visit they give them the gift and pray a rosary for the persons’ intentions.
The 8th graders don’t have a theme. At the end of 7th grade they choose what projects they want to do for their final year of Challenge. This years group is making blankets for the pregnancy center, making meals for the abused women shelter and helping at the Crisis Pregnancy Centers fall banquet. Their final project is to plan the final meeting for the 5-7th graders and run lots of fun field games for them. One significant project the 8th graders did last year was put a sympathy basket together for a fellow 8th grader whose brother passed away. They filled a jar with inspirational quotes from scripture that she could draw from if she was having a bad day and they make some “Sonshine” cookies. This helped the girls and the team leaders in their own grieving process!