by The Leaven
ROELAND PARK — Philanthropy is usually a word associated with the world of adults, but the youth of St. Agnes School here were honored with the prestigious AFP Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award on National Philanthropy Day Nov. 14 at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Mid-America Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals presented awards to people who are making a difference through philanthropy.
St. Agnes students were recognized for their outstanding support to the community through their annual Rams Reaching Out Day.
Each year on the last day of April, under the direction of teachers and parent volunteers, the students partner with Catholic Charities to serve in various ministries.
Jenny Owens Hughes, Rams Day organizer, helped establish the partnership five years ago.
“We wanted the students to be exposed to all the ministries of Catholic Charities,” she said.
A comprehensive service model was created and each grade level worked for a different ministry. The Mother-Baby, Foster Grandparents, Refugee and Summer Food programs — as well as Shalom House, the Resource Bus, Hope Distribution Center, and TurnStyles — all benefited from the work of these students.
The students benefited as much as the recipients of the help.
“The students learned about service, teamwork and respect. They worked together and had great social lessons about today’s issues,” said St. Agnes principal Jane Sullivan.
“They saw people of all ages supporting a common cause,” she added.
Over 75 percent of the parents and many parish groups assisted with the Rams Day projects.
“Providing service as a community was a great way to share our faith with our children,” said Hughes.
Service has always played an important role in Catholic education. Catholic Charities, likewise, relies on volunteers to serve brothers and sisters in need.
This past April, the students provided the equivalent of over 900 volunteer hours.
“St. Agnes students are a reminder to each of us that our faith calls us into community,” said Denise Oglivie, vice president of outreach and grants management of Catholic Charities.
“We are all called to bring Christ to others,” she continued, “from the smallest child to the oldest adult.”
Blake Allen, a freshman at Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park and a 2018 graduate of St. Agnes put it this way:
“To me, philanthropy is knowing that every single person on the planet matters as much as you. Philanthropy is putting out a change to get everyone an equal chance at a good life because, although some people are better off than others, everyone matters the same.”
Rams Reaching Out Day ensures that St. Agnes students go forth into the world as better people, better citizens . . . and change-makers.