SNYDER — At Christ the King School, students came together to help fellow students at Our Lady of Black Rock School in Buffalo in the weeks leading up to Christmas by collecting donations for the city students, many of whom are refugees in great need as the weather started getting colder.
The sixth-grade class at Christ the King was responsible for leading their school's donation drive for Our Lady of Black Rock, with faculty members Virginia Mackmin and Kristin Buckingham and a parent, Carol Fillip, helping. For the first two weeks of November, students collected donations, which Fillip said received an overwhelming response. Many of the items that they took in were brand new.
"I personally heard from parents whose children urged them to take them shopping to buy items at regular retail stores, as well as secondhand stores (to buy dresses). Many items we received still had price tags," Fillip said.
On Nov. 17, 17 members of the sixth-grade class helped Fillip bring the donated items to her truck. Sixth-graders Carly Illos and Catherine Fillip, and eighth-grader Sarah Fillip, helped organize, sort and re-pack the items they received. It took them a few hours to sort them since there were so many.
The following day, Carly, Catherine and Sarah brought them to Our Lady of Black Rock. "The generous families at CTK donated numerous books, school supplies, backpacks, bags, girls' Christmas dresses, pants, skirts, shirts, etc.," Fillip said. "Our Lady of Black Rock was so thankful for all the donated items, saying, 'The Holy Spirit has a hand on what is happening in our little corner of Buffalo.'"
While there, the Our Lady of Black Rock students showed the visiting girls from Christ the King their school and told them many of their personal stories. Carly said delivering the items to the school and being able to give aid to a group of students less fortunate than herself during the holidays "warmed my heart."
Sarah said that she was "so happy she was able to take the donated items to the school so she could learn about their school and the children," while Catherine recalled how the experience showed her that other children, even those in other Catholic schools, do not have much, especially those who came from countries affected by war and various forms of poverty and were once in a refugee camp.
"So many of the children at Christ the King are so fortunate and others - even at other area Catholic schools - have so little. Very often, our family thinks about how much we have, and how others have so little," Fillip added, noting she had spoken with other Christ the King parents who felt the same way.
Fillip, who has worked on the diocesan marketing committee, knew Our Lady of Black Rock was one of the schools in the diocese in the greatest amount of need, since it is a community with many students who go without basic items.
"In the past, a group of kids who are now in the sixth grade, have donated their time and/or items for children at Buffalo city public schools with the help of their parents. It seemed like a good time again to do something to help others, especially because it's holiday time," Fillip concluded.