by Anna Karnell, High School Senior
On Sunday, June 26, seven high school students and I arrived at Holy Trinity for a send-off Mass before we hopped in a car on our way to Baltimore. I never anticipated how much the support from this group and our adult leaders would play into my ability to serve and connect to those in need during our week of service.
On Monday, we jumped into action at Sacred Heart Church. Using our hands to weed–such a simple action–we added a little bit of beauty to the exterior grounds that reflected the interior beauty of this Church. Later that evening, we were given a task: create a reasonable budget - one that could feed four people. We created a meal on a budget of $20-$30. Then our leaders told us we had a measly $8.75 to spend on dinner! This gave us a taste of what it was like to feed a family living in poverty.
Tuesday at the Franciscan House, we helped hand essential items, such as bread, pots, pans, and sanitary items, to people in need. In the evening, everyone joined the Grief Ministry, and we organized a bunch of pantry items that were used as donations to families who had lost a loved one to violence. This was my favorite service, partly because of the cause and also because I really felt needed. This organization didn’t have enough people to get the work done. In the evening, through a scavenger hunt, we built connections with each other.
Holy Trinity teens painted and worked in the garden at Sacred Heart Church in Baltimore.
Wednesday, we went to St. Paul’s Place and worked in the retail section. I helped people pick out a few outfits in a limited time. I was surprised at how different each client was and how different their needs and attitudes were. I could empathize with each person. Some were embarrassed. Some were carefree. I appreciated that while they might have had poverty in common, poverty didn’t define them. Each person had her own personality and needs, his own story of life. Later, we all went to a farm to pick sugar snap peas and raspberries that would be donated to soup kitchens and other nonprofits.
Thursday, which was my final day, we went to another soup kitchen to sort out the pantry. The week quickly passed. Each evening, we had a reflection where we talked about what we did that day and took a moment of silence. I think we all were trying to process what we were experience...something I’m still doing.
That night, I had to leave the group. I wish I could have stayed longer. I connected with the people around me and with each act of service. It’s something I’d like to participate in again, and I thank my peers and the adults for creating a pleasant environment where I felt comfortable to serve.