by Carolyn Kaberline
Special to The Leaven
They did the dishes and fed the dog. They cleaned their rooms, vacuumed and did the laundry.
The first-graders of Mary Lousie Totten’s class at Mater Dei School in Topeka performed these and other chores around the house to earn money — not for themselves, but to purchase cookies to be used in Corita’s Corner sandwich ministry as part of the school’s service day during Catholic Schools Week.
The ministry is named after Sister Corita Conlan, SCL, longtime principal of Assumption Grade School in Topeka.
“I sent notes home with the students on a Friday asking parents to let their students do chores around the house to earn money for this,” Totten said. “They could either bring the money they earned or cookies.”
Totten said she tried to impress on her students that it is easy to give someone else’s money, but not so easy to give their own.
“I asked them, when they give money at church, is it theirs or their parents,” she explained. “I also asked if they gave their tooth fairy money to the church.”
She then told them the story of the rich people and the poor woman going to the Temple.
“The rich gave gold coins, but the poor woman gave two small coins,” Totten said. “Christ asked his disciples who God was more pleased with. [He] said the poor woman because she gave all that she had while the rich gave from their excess.”
“The students had a week to earn the money,” she continued, adding that it was up to the parents to set the amount to be paid for the chores. The Friday after the notes went home, they were to bring in the money they earned or a bag of cookies.
“In all, the 22 students brought in $43 in cash and 14 packages of cookies.”
Totten then asked Sister Marjorie Cushing, SCL, who is in charge of the sandwich ministry, if it would be OK for the students to put notes that they wrote in with the cookies.
After receiving the OK from Sister Marjorie, students filled in notes that said things like: “Jesus taught me to share. I did a lot of chores around the house for cookie money.”
Not only did the students have fun creating 679 bags of cookies and coloring the frames for the notes, they also learned from the project.
And it appears that the lesson stuck.
“I learned to help other people,” said first-grader Parker Andrews.
“I learned to help one another,” echoed classmate Madison Spindler.
“I learned to be kind to others,” said a third member of the class, Remi Cushinberry.
Totten noted that while the sandwich cookies were tempting, not one student asked to have one to eat.
“They knew they were for others,” she said.