ANDERSON — In addition to language, math, science and social studies, second-graders at St. Ambrose school this year have worked hard on a series of seven special service projects.
They've fed the hungry, remembered and prayed for the dead, gathered and donated baby clothes to the St. Vincent De Paul Society, made bookmarks for prison Bible classes, visited the sick, and created "welcome kits" for children at Dove Harbor in Anderson.
Brad Kluesner, principal of St. Ambrose, calls it putting faith into action.
The goal throughout the year has been to practice and educate the kids on the "Corporal Acts of Mercy" in preparation for an important rite of passage in the Catholic Church: celebrating their First Communion.
Last week, the final service project — providing water for the thirsty — got underway.
Each student received a bottle of water and, after drinking it, turned the bottle into a bank to collect change. The bottles will be turned in next month and the money raised will be sent to Catholic Relief Services and used for clean water projects around the world.
"Our faith is the center of our lives, so what we want is to have our children develop a foundation of a relationship with God and also solidarity with their fellow humans, their brothers and sisters," Kluesner said.
"I think the longer they're here at our school, the more that habit develops into the virtue of loving and caring for others. And from an educational standpoint, that's what we think makes us special," he added. "When you come to school here, you have these opportunities to put your faith into action."
Most of the projects have focused on the needy in Madison County. But others, such as the clean water project, have exposed the children to the needs of people throughout the world, said Jessica Scheckeloff, who teaches the second grade class at St. Ambrose.