Ottawa Christian School students are living this school year’s theme of “Growing Together in Christ” (Ephesians 4:15-16) by helping the community’s poor and hungry.
They recently held a canned-food drive ahead of Thanksgiving, and a fundraiser is planned in the future to purchase socks. Both efforts support the Ottawa Mission, a non-profit and faith-based ministry the school has faithfully partnered with for more than 20 years.
Vice-principal and Grade 2-3 teacher Grace Sontrop says the Ottawa Mission has been “a part of our school for such a long time, it’s a relationship that is very dear to us.”
She and Grade 5 teacher Ada Speyers, who’ve guided the local service project for a number of years, say the children anticipate the effort annually.
It’s an empowering experience for both them and the Ottawa Mission.
“By growing (Together in Christ), we mean spreading out and helping and influencing the lives of other people in need,” Speyers says.
The children “realize how blessed they are but that everyone isn’t as blessed,” Sontrop says. “But also then to enable them to do something, not just saddle them with problems, they see that they can do something.”
Shirley Roy, the Ottawa Mission’s community and media relations manager, says the continual outreach by Ottawa Christian School and others is invaluable to the people who stay and work at the mission.
The 234-bed men’s shelter helps the homeless and less fortunate meet their basic needs and provides services such as job training and a learning centre to help lives get back on track.
“It means a lot to know that people in the community are trying to support people in need, and it means a lot to know that they are willing to do it year after year,” Roy says.
“And it really makes life a little more comfortable for people on the streets when they have those day-to-day things that people take for granted, like socks and underwear, and to be able to have enough to feed everybody,” Roy says, noting the mission provides an average of 1,200 meals every day.
Sontrop and Speyers note that the school consults with the mission in advance to determine how best to help.
To help meet this year’s need for canned food students brought in donations for two days, filling 15 large, reusable grocery bags. A few donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste were also brought in.
All of the contributions were collected at the school by an Ottawa Mission representative, who also spoke to the students in the chapel about life at the mission.
Sontrop and Speyers say the school’s other support effort this year will be a sale of apple pizzas made by parents, with proceeds used to buy men’s socks at a well-known discount store. It’s hoped that the store will match the number of socks purchased, and the school’s Grade 8 class will deliver all of the socks to the mission and volunteer there for all or part of a day.