Serving those at eternal rest

St. Croix Catholic students help clean local cemetery

Eight-year-olds Erik Houle, left, and Owen Dinzeo clean grass and dirt from St. Michael’s Cemetery grave markers Tuesday. The two St. Croix Catholic school students were part of a group that cleaned the cemetery for a fundraising service project

BAYPORT — With low clouds and a light mist falling, St. Michael’s Cemetery could have passed for a scene out of Halloween movie.

But there were no screams amid the souls at eternal rest. The only noise on a damp fall day was the chatter of about 80 St. Croix Catholic School third- and fourth-grade students as they cleaned the cemetery grounds and removed grass and dirt from grave markers under the supervision of teachers, school officials and parents.

The hour-long project was part of the school’s annual service project fundraiser, said Gina Watry, St. Croix Catholic’s coordinator of service projects.

St. Croix Catholic and other Catholic schools nationwide participate in the annual Non-Public School Fundraising Marathon every October. SCC students and their families performed more than 6,000 actis of service and topped their $75,000 fundraising goal, according to school officials.

Watry said St. Croix Catholic students in all grades participate in different ways, she added.

“This is an annual project for the third and fourth grades,” she said about the St. Michael’s Cemetery visit.

Watry said SCC kindergarteners, first- and second-graders sang to Golden Living-Linden residents recently. The school’s fifth- through eighth-graders will participate in Community Thread’s “Rake a Difference Day,” raking leaves in 12 yards later this week.

“Every year, our school participates in a service marathon fundraiser,” Watry said. “When they’re asking for donations from friends and family, we do give an emphasis on paying it forward.”

The cemetery project, yard raking and singing at care center are all considered the last service events for students during the school’s first trimester, Watry said.

“We have our kids try to perform 26 acts of service. This is a school event to complete the 26th act. This is a big piece of the first trimester,” Watry said.

School officials said the 26 acts of service mimic the 26 miles of a marathon race, with community members making donations in honor of the students’ work.

“It’s a way for our students to model Christ in their daily lives, and an opportunity for us to show our appreciation for the community’s support. We are proud of our students’ efforts and deeply appreciative to all who contributed to the school’s mission through this unique fundraiser,” said St. Croix Catholic Principal Sr. Mary Juliana, O.P.