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On Saturday, Jan. 24, the Westfield Sunrise Mall became the gathering place for over 700 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade religious education students of St. Rose of Lima Church for its annual Youth for Outreach Walk-a-Thon. Joined by their family, friends and parish staff, the students carried inspirational posters and dressed in class theme outfits of unity to come together and walk for the needs of others. It has become apparent to us at St. Rose that outreach programs like the annual Walk-a-Thon help to change how the children think and feel about helping others.

Prior to the event the students were encouraged to research humanitarian organizations in class. Thirty organizations were nominated, and all shared in the proceeds of more than $17,000 raised by the students. Among the groups are those that provide medical research, educational opportunity and the care of persons in need. They include Parish Outreach, St. Jude Children Hospital, Juvenile Diabetes Association, the Make a Wish Foundation, Angela's House and Friends of Karen just to name a few.

Statements shared in their nomination letters reflected their response to the needs of others ... "stewardship really does start at home" ..., "we need to help people in Massapequa" ... and "every coin counts." Some students responded globally ... "educate people about hunger and disease so the stigma would be gone" ..., "kids helping kids ... to have safe drinking water" ... "we think it is important for people to have food." All these children "are proud to walk ... for all the causes." Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Curtis' fourth-grade class motto for this year highlighted the thoughts of all our walkers, "Helping Hands - One Hand at a Time." They shared they wanted their "helping hands" to help others in their time of need.

The Youth for Outreach Walk-a-Thon continues to be a success with the community support of the Westfield Sunrise Mall in providing their facility. St. Rose is grateful to Stop & Shop for their donation of bottled water for our walkers and King Kullen for the donation of snacks which were distributed as well. The joint effort of these businesses, along with the support and encouragement of the parish community and the teachers who instruct the children, serve to continue to develop and foster a strong call to lifelong stewardship and community activism which the Massapequas embodies.


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