Mecca Outreach

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Olivia Quagliani

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All students are required to complete a specific number of service hours each year. Each class grade is offered different opportunities to serve their community and neighboring ones as well. The Freshmen help withEggstravaganza, the Juniors participate in the Immersion program, and Seniors help a group of their choice. The Sophomore class is offered a chance to go to Mecca with a faculty member to do service with those in that area who do not have a sufficient access to food. Every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. a group of seven Sophomores and one faculty member drive to Mecca to help Catholic Charities distribute food to families who have low-income cards. The families wait in line, some for hours, so their families can eat nutritious food. The members of the Xavier community stay until 10 a.m., when they arrive back at school by 10:30 a.m. for 7th period.

Before the food distribution begins, the entire group of volunteers stands in a circle to pray. The head of the charity leads everyone in prayer starting with intentions and birthdays. Then, the group recites the Our Father together. Since the project is run by Catholic Charities, praying occurs every time they meet to give strength to the families, acknowledge God’s presence through the helping hands, and remind themselves that through service, God’s love shows.

Catholic Charities Food Basket photo by Today’s Catholic

Coach Lewis is one faculty member who has gone on these outreach trips to Mecca. He was asked how those receiving food react towards the volunteers. He said, “They always say thank you and smile. Little kids help put the food in their baskets and some people even sing while in line. Some volunteers have relationships with the people getting food after seeing them so many times. Everyone is really grateful.” Coach Lewis also mentioned the importance of taking the time to go to Mecca to help. He said, “Mecca’s income level has been compared to those of third world countries, yet it is so close to us. They live without many things we take advantage of. When it rains, as it has been recently, the town becomes a flood area.” His words give meaning to the importance of helping those who cannot necessarily help themselves.

Some Sophomores who have gone on the outreach trip, whether this year or last year, were asked questions regarding their volunteer work. Sammy Castillo, Taylor Schein, and Alanis Arce were asked what the best part of helping was. Alanis said, “It was nice to meet people. I also speak Spanish so I could communicate with the people there on a personal level.” Taylor shared, “The way it makes you feel after helping is amazing. I would do it again just to feel like I am making a difference in someone’s life.” Sammy added, “Talking to the people made me feel like I was making a difference. Also, one woman asked what my name was, and I told her. But she said ‘No, your name is Angel’ and that made me happy. I loved being a part of something bigger than myself.” These three Xavier students exemplified what it means to be women with and for others.

Sophomores Sammy Castillo, Taylor Schein & Junior Alanis Arce (Photo by Olivia Quagliani)

Even though the people served by Catholic Charities have less than the average person, they still offered what it means to be grateful. As November and the season of giving thanks are upon us, everyone can learn from the people in Mecca. They are living examples of how we can be grateful for our places in this world and be grateful for what we possess. There truly is so much to be grateful for every day. And, as the season of giving begins, it is important to know how to get involved. Ms. Montez said a good way to help is by donating during the holiday season and by signing up to help immigrants pass their legalization and citizenship tests. Coach Lewis indicated that there is a lot of need in this valley and another good way to help is by volunteering at homeless shelters or volunteer to tutor kids. Regardless of your class, there are many ways you can serve the people of the valley who are in need. Step out, live what it means to be men and women with and for others.

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