As Lent approaches, the work of Rice Bowl, the annual Lenten program of fasting, prayer and almsgiving of Catholic Relief Services, was illustrated at All Saints School in Hayward.
Pupils at All Saints are accustomed to the Rice Bowl. They raise funds — and fun — each year by participating in a "penny war," said principal Jennifer Diaz.
Marianne Landis, who teaches third grade, applied for a grant last year. In December, the third-grade class became one of the 32 organizations that feed the hungry in the Diocese of Oakland to receive a grant.
The grant — $550 — would be used to make bag lunches for the homeless people, who have breakfast on Tuesdays, to take along with them.
The students brainstormed ideas on what to serve, the products they'd need to package the goods and drew up budgets.
The sandwich-making began on Jan. 26, the first school day of Catholic Schools Week.
"We're very lucky to get a grant to make some sandwiches for the people who are homeless in Hayward," she said. "There are more and more people in Hayward who need our help."
The $550 grant, she told them, "is enough that we can make a start. Make a difference."
Long division came into play as the students divided the available funds by the number of months in the school year.
"We're not going to be able to make sandwiches every week," Landis said.
Their goal: "Make this money last until June," she said.
This time, the third-graders got a helping hand from organizers of the school's sock hop, held the previous weekend. "We danced the night away," the teacher said.
Leftover bottles of water and a box containing 30 bags of chips were donated by organizers. One student's family sent in bags of cookies.
Pupils made a list of supplies needed — bags and napkins, for example, as well as cheese and bread.
Taking colored pencils and crayons from their desks, the students decorated the lunch bags.
A little girl named Marley Brown, who below hearts wrote:
"We love you." At the bottom she added: "And the Holy Spirit is with you."
When asked what she hopes the recipient will feel, she said, "Feels happy about herself and likes to make other people happier."
She added a note inside: "We are always thinking of you."
With the sandwich bags decorated, six pupils were chosen to go to the kitchen in the gym to make the sandwiches, accompanied by a volunteer mom and grandmother.
Stephanie Torrey, who was making sandwiches with her son, said she hopes the lunchmaking "inspires them to do better, to help others."
Jayne Afoya, the grandmother, said, "They love to participate. They realize they help people who are not as fortunate."
Then, row by row, the young grant recipients filled 30 bags with bottled water, cookies, chips, tangerines, napkins and messages of hope.
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