Students serve up meals, compassion to homeless

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The homeless across South Mississippi are bracing for another week of bitterly cold weather. On Monday, some sixth graders headed to a day shelter in Biloxi to make sure the homeless had a hot meal and warm clothes to wear. It was a lesson in service and compassion.

When there are as many as 130 people to feed, extra helping hands in the kitchen are always welcome. 31 sixth graders from St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Long Beach pitched-in to prepare and serve a home-cooked meal to the needy. It was their first time volunteering at the Seashore Mission Day Shelter in Biloxi.

"It's nice knowing that people come here and get fed so they're not just on the streets wondering where the next meal will be from," said sixth grader Alma Hearin.

The service project came about after the students met a long-time volunteer at the Sam's store. As they were learning about proportions and other math problems, Mikel Gusa told them about the number of meals served at Seashore Mission.

The students decided to spend a day feeding the less fortunate. They also collected clothes, blankets, personal hygiene products and snacks to donate to the day shelter.

"I hope they learn they're very blessed, and I hope they realize they're blessing other people as well," said teacher Cindy Cox.

"They are very excited. They've been looking forward to this for a very long time."

By volunteering, the students learned to connect their knowledge and faith to real life. They said it was the perfect way to kick-off National Catholic Schools Week.

"Our theme song for our school is 'Open the Doors Wide' and work as Jesus would do. Let Jesus' work go out and that's what we're doing, so we're tying it all in," said Cox.

"It felt really inspiring to see all these people come together, and for me and my class, we had an awesome time doing it," said sixth grader Brooke Rogers.

"It was amazing. They did such a good job," said the Rev. Paige Swaim-Presley, Seashore Mission Executive Director.

"They brought such energy and such life. I know they really made our community here feel loved and cared for."

Next year, the teachers and students plan to prepare and cook the food themselves over the weekend, and deliver the meals to the mission on Monday.

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