Divine Child raises support through creative service

A student bags fruit at Gleaners Food Bank during a “Pledge: Faith in Action” day of service for Dearborn Divine Child High School last year.

A student bags fruit at Gleaners Food Bank during a “Pledge: Faith in Action” day of service for Dearborn Divine Child High School last year.

Special to The Michigan Catholic | Mike Horan

Dearborn — An all-student fundraising program at Divine Child High School is not only making an impact at the school, but in the community as well.

Started last year, “Pledge: Faith in Action” provides financial support for Divine Child and its academic, extracurricular, fine arts and campus ministry programs, not to mention a foundation of faith-oriented service for the students who execute it. Through the program, students raise money by asking for pledges from friends, family and others to “sponsor” them in a day of service.

“It’s a pledge system,” said Val Vena, a junior at Divine Child. “We go out and get sponsors and they put up whatever they can afford for us to go out and do a day of service. I think it’s a really great change especially from the past where it was going out and selling raffle tickets to raise money for the school and what we do here.”

Divine Child principal Damian Hermann said students go out as an entire class — for instance, all the sophomores at once — four times during the school year. He said he hopes the program will create in students a lifelong desire to go out and give back to the community.

“It’s just about making sure we’re living our faith,” he said. “That our kids know that living your faith means going out and serving our local community. We try to make sure that the kids get an opportunity that they wouldn’t typically have through community service. I think going out and doing it as a class level gives them an opportunity to share in it together.”

Last year, students spent their days of service at All Saints Soup Kitchen and Pantry, Belle Isle, Forgotten Harvest, Gleaners, Penrickton Center for the Blind, St. Dunstan Food Depot, St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center and Sweet Dreamz.

Isabella Cavataio, a junior at Divine Child, volunteered by bagging fruit for Gleaners last year.

“Some of the jobs were simple like putting holes in bags and paper for ventilation, and some were dirtier where you had to remove mold from vegetables. You realize some people don’t have it as great as you do and you have to be thankful for what you already have.”

This year, students will be doing many of the same activities around Lent.

“We found out it was a great connection for us to know that during the Lenten season we were giving back to the less (fortunate),” Hermann said. “What we want our kids to do is to come back and say ‘this is what we’re supposed to be doing as Catholic students and this is what we want to do.’ And we want them to know when they finish their time at Divine Child that going out and serving our fellow citizens doesn’t stop there.”

Divine Child’s all-student fundraising program used to include more traditional fundraisers such as selling candy or raffle tickets, but Vena said “Pledge: Faith in Action” is a much more practical way to make an impact in the community and at the school.

“This gives a chance to give back to the people who give so much to us,” he said. “We draw so much from our community here at Divine Child, and we really pride ourselves in being a family. Selling candy and stuff, that’s OK, but going out and being able to make a difference in other people’s lives, I think is a lot more rewarding.”

Vena’s classmate, Cavataio, agreed.

“I really like how it’s different than what we’ve done before because now the reward is more meaningful, it’s not just prize money or incentives, you get to give back to the community,” she said. “I think it’s really meaningful to make a difference in other people’s lives and to actually see it.”

This year, students at Divine Child raised more than $142,000, up from last year’s $113,000. Though the goal is to raise as much money as possible, Vena explained there’s a much bigger goal in mind.

“I think a huge goal of it is that we’re really trying to establish ourselves by reaching out to the community instead of just being our own family, a ‘within ourselves’ community,” he said. “Faith in Action has really allowed us to reach out and show other people what Divine Child is all about.”


Pledge: Faith in Action

To donate and sponsor students at Divine Child through Pledge: Faith in Action, visit http://www.dcpfia.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1122832