diofav 23

Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

122217 cougar carnitasCHARLOTTE — Charlotte Catholic High School saw resounding success during its second annual Cougar Caritas, a charity initiative that places more than 1,000 of its students in the greater Charlotte community for two full days of service.

For two days Dec. 1-2, students fanned out across Mecklenburg County to serve others. They prepared meals at homeless shelters across the city, brought Christmas cheer to nursing home residents, sorted and wrapped Christmas gifts for underprivileged children, provided refreshments to veterans and thanked them for their service, refurbished donated bicycles that will be given to children for Christmas, cleaned and organized food pantries, and performed many other charitable works. More than 75 different service projects were carried out over the two days.

Caritas, a Latin word meaning charity and Christian love of humankind, was chosen last year as the theme for the days of service. Given the wide variety of projects occurring over two days, Charlotte Catholic’s Campus Minister Mary Jayne Dawson felt it was important to give the event a name that embodies all that will be done, and the spirit in which the students will serve.

“It’s incredible to have more than 1,000 students, plus faculty and staff members, join together to help so many in our community in so many different ways,” Dawson said. “We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world today, and this is Charlotte Catholic’s way of turning that calling into action.”

“My hope is that Caritas inspires our students to take on these projects on a regular basis,” she continued. “We made an extra effort to teach our students more about who and why we are serving, so that they can feel more engaged and encouraged to become regular volunteers throughout our city.”

The theme of the 2017-’18 school year at Charlotte Catholic is the acronym “LOVE”: Loving Others, Valuing Everyone. Each month of the school year has a different focus: acceptance, involvement, gratitude, charity, faith, compassion, social justice, responsibility and patience. Concentrating on one theme each month encourages school-wide conversations and actions to demonstrate each of these themes. This month, students are focusing on charity.

“Cougar Caritas demonstrates our school’s ongoing commitment to the corporal works of mercy, and is one of our many efforts to serve the larger community,” said Jeremy Kuhn, English teacher and co-chair of the event.

A large group of Charlotte Catholic students spent the day refurbishing donated bicycles for Trips For Kids Charlotte, a non-profit organization with several programs that provide bikes to underserved youths. The students sorted bicycle parts and repaired bikes for the afterschool Earn-a-Bike program.

“The session went great,” said Eric Supil of Trips For Kids. “They processed 31 bikes for parts and prepped 20 bikes for youths!”

Members of the high school’s basketball team traveled to St. Matthew Church to help Lynn Polian’s first-graders with a Christmas project. They helped the children make gingerbread houses and other treats to send to the Greenway Park Elementary School families that the class adopted for Christmas.

122217 Cougar Caritas5122217 Cougar Caritas5122217 Cougar Caritas5122217 Cougar Caritas5“The boys were great with the kids,” Polian said afterwards. “I received many messages that my class went home excited to share who our special visitors were. What an awesome opportunity for our elementary students and parents to see how great our CCHS student body is.”

“Our students did a wonderful job with this project, and so many of our teachers and staff worked behind the scenes to make the days of service a success,” said Principal Kurt Telford. “I want to thank our teachers for being out in the community and here on campus, giving of themselves. Being a model in the areas of service and charity is the best teaching we do.”

— Carolyn Tillman, Special to the Catholic News Herald. Tillman is the assistant director, Advancement Office, at Charlotte Catholic High School. Photos provided by Carolyn Tillman