Joint School Community Wellness Project Comes to Fruition

Students gathered at St. John Catholic Elementary School this past week to package and prepare a delivery for those in need in our community.

The initiative was a culmination of a special joint collaboration on a wellness project between St. John CS and Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School.

“Being that St. John and Holy Trinity serve much of the same community, we wanted to work together to help those less fortunate this winter. On November 2, St. John students from Mrs. Girgis-Tweedle’s Grade 2 class and Mr. Parkinson’s Grade 6 class met virtually with my Grade 8 class from Holy Trinity to begin planning! The idea of wellness bags was introduced to the group, and the students guided much of the planning. They were so excited and had such wonderful ideas to share, deciding on what items they thought would be of most importance to include in our wellness bags,” shared Lisa Gibson, grade 8 teacher at Holy Trinity CS.

Over the past few months, both St. John Catholic School in Guelph and Holy Trinity Catholic School have been asking for donations of various items for a Wellness Project in support of the Royal City Mission and The Bench downtown.

“As a joint school community, St. John and Holy Trinity, we decided that this winter we wanted to focus on serving those locally. There are people within our own community that go without during these cold winter months, and we wanted to find a way to help! Pairing our Wellness Project with The Bench was a perfect way to achieve this goal!” shared Alijha Girgis-Tweedle, grade 2 teacher at St. John CS.

Following the initial call, St. John’s students traveled to Holy Trinity to continue planning and deciding on what items each school would be collecting.

“Students from both schools collaborated, creating cards which will be included in each bag, painting inspirational tags, and designing posters which were used to promote our project in the hallways of our schools. It was so special to see each and every student using their gifts to make a difference in the lives of others. They fully embraced the opportunity to meet and work with different schools and understood the purpose of our project: to serve those less fortunate in our community,” explained Gibson.

“Prior to the Christmas break, a letter was sent out to all families inviting them to begin collecting items which would be included in each bag. Some of the items collected were hats, mitts, hand warmers, toothbrushes and toothpaste, scarves, socks, etc. We had a goal of collecting 150 of each item, and we soon realized that we were going to well surpass this goal! The generosity and kindness and the way in which our school communities fully supported this call, was spectacular!” added Girgis-Tweedle.

St. John's Grade 2 and Grade 6 classes, and Holy Trinity's Grade 8 class, have been working together to educate students on the need to give back to our community members experiencing homelessness during these very cold months.

“The wonderful thing about this project is the way in which it has evolved, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing people throughout the planning process. Our initial plan was to get primary, junior, and intermediate students involved from both St. John and Holy Trinity, as we serve much of the same community. What began as a goal to pack 150 wellness bags, soon developed into baking and preparing a meal and dessert for the Royal City Mission, and after the overwhelming amount of donations from our local school communities, we will likely be helping more than 150 people this winter,” said Gibson.

This past week, all three classes gathered together for the 'packing party' and to make some yummy treats at St. John CS. Following the day, they then prepared pizzas for the Royal City Mission and delivered the donated items to The Bench downtown.

“We have been working together for one cause: SERVICE, and while downtown, we wanted to find another way that we could give back to our community and to help those less fortunate. With Mark (Berardine)’s help, we were able to organize a meal, cooked by our students, which we will be served at the Royal City Mission by staff members from St. John and Holy Trinity,” added Girgis-Tweedle.

The students had been really looking forward to these two special days where the students can collaborate with their peers and be hands on in a helpful way.

“It has been a gift to be able to work together, as two school communities, with the same overarching goal: to serve our community! It has been a humbling experience, and we are overwhelmed and overjoyed by the generosity and kindness of others,” said Gibson. “Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project, it truly was a community effort.”