St. Ambrose students complete community service projects

St. Ambrose Catholic School in Seymour has a tradition of serving the community.

Students regularly volunteer at local food pantries and help with various causes throughout the school year.

That’s also part of National Catholic Schools Week each year.

When that week was observed Jan. 30 to Feb. 5, though, the high number of COVID-19 cases in the county prevented them from completing the community service projects.

Instead, they put together community care baskets, which were delivered to the fire department, post office, city hall, department of public works, police station and hospital.

The school also had a penny war and collected $704.12, which was donated to Catholic Charities of Owensboro, Kentucky, to help with tornado relief in that state.

Since the community service projects have always been a priority for National Catholic Schools Week, Principal Michelle Neibert-Levine said it was important to reschedule them during Lent.

“Providing community service is part of our school mission,” she said. “Our mission statement: Led by Christ through prayer and study, the St. Ambrose Catholic School community encourages a lifelong commitment to faith, learning, leadership and service. Therefore, it is important that we provide opportunities for community service so that our students learn the importance of and encourage them to continue helping others into their adult lives.”

On Wednesday, kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders traveled to Lutheran Community Home in Seymour to sing, while third- and fourth-graders cleaned at Girls Inc. of Jackson County in Seymour.

Also, fifth-graders volunteered at Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry, sixth-graders spent an hour at Community Provisions of Jackson County and seventh-graders organized items at the Jackson County Clothing Center. All of those projects also were in Seymour.

The eighth-graders, meanwhile, went up to Indianapolis to deliver aluminum can tabs to the Ronald McDonald House and tour Marian University.

Seventh-graders Amy Morales, Julia Bustos and Colin Hartung worked together in a room at the clothing center.

“I like helping out people that are in need, and I just think it’s a very nice experience for St. Ambrose to do it, to give you the opportunity to do it,” Morales said while sorting through clothing donations.

Bustos agreed it’s nice to help people who are in need.

“We get to just take time off to help those who are not as privileged as some other people,” she said.

Hartung said seventh-graders go to Community Provisions on the first Thursday of every month to help in the food pantry, so he was happy to help another local nonprofit organization Wednesday.

“It’s a new thing because it’s the first time we’ve done it, but it’s a fun experience to help out,” he said. “It’s just a very nice way to help out people who can’t really get the stuff by themselves.”

Neibert-Levine said the other middle school students also provide monthly service in the community — sixth grade at Anchor House and eighth grade with Meals on Wheels.

“At Christmastime, we enjoy caroling downtown and ringing The Salvation Army bells,” she said. “We also help with disaster relief across the country when we can and support St. Therese Catholic School in Gaspard, Haiti, throughout the year.”

During National Catholic Schools Week, St. Ambrose started with a career day with Dr. Nate Otte (optometrist), Becky Schepman (radio), Seymour Police Department Officer Armando Pasillas and Indiana State Police Trooper Seth Davidson (law enforcement), Dr. Steve Sunbury (veterinarian), Lea Chandler (nurse), Liz Corcoran (chef) and Kyle Coates (athletic trainer).

While those people shared information about their professions, students dressed as their future career.

Another day involved regular and giant board games, and students dressed in solid colors or as board game pieces.

Activities on the last two school days that week, however, were postponed due to a snowstorm that hit the area and resulted in St. Ambrose having eLearning days.