Giving to those who gave so much: Students spread Gospel love to local veterans (AUDIO)

Nina Keyser, left, and Luke Hansen, sixth-graders at Divine Child School in Dearborn, carry boxes of donations for the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit through the hallways of the school Nov. 15. Jennifer Moore's sixth-grade class was inspired to take up the project after watching the six videos for the 'Unleash the Gospel' challenge last week. (Photos by Dan Meloy | Detroit Catholic)


DEARBORN — Sixth-graders at Divine Child are putting together a campaign to serve God and country.

After every Mass at the Dearborn school, religion teacher Jennifer Moore asks her students to reflect on the Gospel reading and how it can apply it in their own lives.

So when the Archdiocese of Detroit released a series of videos for the “Unleash the Gospel” challenge, Moore’s classed watched them to learn what the evangelization initiative is all about and to reflect on how God is calling them to be missionary disciples.

“Over the week of watching the videos, the kids started to be curious about the next steps and what can we do,” Moore told Detroit Catholic. “It happened to time up with Veterans Day in sight, so we did a little research and discovered the VA Memorial Hospital (John D. Dingell VA Medical Center) in Detroit actually accepts donations.”

Moore’s classes started collecting hygiene products, games, books, arts and crafts supplies and other assorted items for veterans confined in the hospital.

Left to right, Divine Child sixth-graders Kate Paluszewski, Ruby Morrow, Marty Griffin and Max Juarez hold up some of the items they helped collect for the veterans hospital during a class project inspired by 'Unleash the Gospel.'

“We are collecting items from the school and everyone who is willing to donate to the veterans to help them spiritually and physically be healed,” said Temperance Gorman, a Divine Child sixth-grader. “Spreading the Gospel message means bringing God’s love to all the people who might not know what God’s love is about and how strong it is. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have people in your family or not being able to see them. They should feel like they should have family, too.”

Moore said sixth grade is the education level when students delve into what it means to live out their Catholic faith.

“I think the 'Unleash the Gospel' videos were a good fit for a sixth-grade group, who are at the brink of choosing to be Catholic,” Moore said. “Some of them have been born into Catholic families, and for some of them part of their normal life is being Catholic. But you come to a point in those middle school years when you have to choose to be Catholic in how you live and act.”

After watching the “Unleash the Gospel” videos and subsequently learning about why the United States celebrates Veterans Day on Nov. 11, students wanted to combine both lessons.

“By doing this project, we are spreading Gospel love to other people who do not feel love all the time because they may feel apart from their friends or family members,” said sixth-grader Owen Marchywka. “In school we learned some veterans have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and I feel bad for them, because they can’t do what they used to do in life. 'Unleash the Gospel' is about helping other people feel God’s love.”

The collection drive formally ends Nov. 16, but Moore expects the donations – now totaling more than 10 boxes from the elementary school – will continue well past Thanksgiving break.

For Moore’s sixth-graders, the act of unleashing the Gospel and bringing God’s light to the world doesn’t end with the campaign.

“The thing about ‘Unleash the Gospel’ is, it’s not that difficult,” said sixth-grader Jubran Bedran. “You can go to church every Sunday, pray to God, get baptized, and learn about what God is trying to teach you each day.

“It’s great seeing (everyone in the school) help the veterans, because we know they have helped the country a lot,” Bedran continued. “It’s important to learn how to help others, even though they helped you more.”