By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – St. Bernadette School’s Little Angels Outreach Club began eight years ago and continues to grow – not only in the number of students who participate, but in the number of people helped by the group’s community service mission.
The afterschool outreach club has over 75 students in grades 5-8 participating this year. It is led by adult facilitators Beth Kurina, Terri Foster, Stephanie Devaney, Lina Long, Nicole Mendoza and Melissa Rotondo.
Kurina said the club’s activities reinforce and put into action what the students are learning in the classroom. The group is led by the eighth graders and the direction of the club evolves based on the needs of the community and interests of the members.
“They see a need in the community and ask ‘how can we help’?” said Kurina. “They are beautiful kids.”
The school has always held collections of can goods, coats and toiletries, but students enjoyed the hands-on service projects and wanted to go beyond what was possible during the normal school day.
The motto of the club is “Called to serve, not to be served,” and that is proudly displayed on t-shirts that are worn to all events.
“It brings out the best in kids and they are able to see their talents and strengths, and become more aware of the community’s needs,” said Kurina. “It’s important to start young and to realize that some people don’t have it as easy as they do.”
The most recent annual project the club completed was collecting, organizing and sorting 60 Thanksgiving meals for senior citizens as part of the Northborough Helping Hands Association Inc.’s holiday program. They also held a reverse trick-or-treating trip to Coleman House for Halloween, where students dressed up and handed out candy to residents instead of receiving candy.
Past projects of the club have included performing in a live Nativity play to benefit a women’s pregnancy shelter; visiting local family shelters to host Christmas and birthday parties; cooking and serving meals at two area soup kitchens; and creating Valentine cards for veterans.
Foster said, “We start kids young so helping others becomes a way of life. We also think bringing kids brings joy to the people we serve.”
Another effort the club supports is Worcester Fellowship, a church serving the homeless. Students hand out homemade sandwiches to people attending services. Students have the opportunity for growth through this type of experience and interaction.
The group’s success can be measured in many ways. School alum are eager to come back to help while fulfilling their high school service hours; students continue their service beyond the club; and the group’s model is now being used by other churches.
Additional information on St. Bernadette School can be found at www.stb-school.org.