The RCCDSB’s Who I AM… Scripture Food Drive is a food drive with a difference. It’s a fun and non-competitive way to spread God’s Word and collect food for His children.
“It is scripture-based and will have a serious tone as we highlight unconditional love, resiliency, and how small acts of kindness, appreciation, and gratitude are effective methods of promoting a positive mental health and wellness approach to life,” says Principal Clint Young, Bishop Smith Catholic High School.
The Who I AM pilot project started two years ago based on the “pay it forward” premise. It initially involved four RCCDSB schools and 300 students.
Using resources built from her own education, and relying on the Holy Spirit to help navigate the program, co-founder Jody McDonald, RCCDSB Teacher and Religious Education Specialist, says she believes in making religion fun in the classroom.
Each student in the four participating classrooms was presented with a blue ribbon and the ‘gift of words’—an affirmation that “Who you are makes a difference to all of us because… Thank you for being who you are!” Each student was also presented with two gold ribbons to pass on to two individuals in their life who made a difference in who they are—a friend, teacher, grandparent, coach or priest.
“This action acknowledges the connectedness and interconnectedness of relationships. The ripple of gratitude becomes a tsunami of unconditional love. Student reflections have stated ‘gratitude becomes contagious’,” notes McDonald.
Enthusiastic uptake of the program saw it expand to seven schools and multiple classrooms. “The outreach was a staggering 4,500 individuals who received either a blue or gold ribbon along with words of gratitude,” enthuses McDonald.
Funding was received from the Ontario Ministry of Education for a Teacher Learning Leadership Program (TLLP) initiative called “Empowering Religion Educators,” to assist with development of the new program.
Who I AM Makes A Difference Because Jesus Loves Me! will be integrated into the curriculum this fall with a five-day lesson plan customized for each grade level from kindergarten to grade 12. Day five culminates with teachers making the presentation of a ‘gift of words’ to each student and a Who I AM ‘gift’, and issuing the challenge to students to pay it forward by presenting two ‘gifts’ and the ‘gift of words’ to others who make a difference to who they are.
The program will kick off with the scripture-based food drive timed to coincide with the Feast of the Guardian Angels (October 2) and lead up to Thanksgiving.
In a very unique initiative to reach out to others, each grade will receive a biblical passage that is connected to the staple food items they will collect. For example, the grade one passage from Exodus 12:20 includes the words “…you shall eat unleavened bread,” so grade one students will collect crackers and cookies. The grade 12 passage from Revelations 22:1, “Then the angel showed me the river of water of life…” will inspire students to collect beverages.
The challenge encompasses every school across the board as well as school councils and Board staff, who also have been assigned a bible passage.
“It will promote solidarity across our Board, but each school will have the autonomy to distribute the collected goods in their own community to a food bank, parish or soup kitchen before Thanksgiving weekend,” notes Young. The many layers of the program break down barriers, build self-worth, and embody the Board’s Vision within each classroom, school, and school community.
“The Who I AM project started with a ripple and it continues to send out waves,” says Principal Young.
October 1, 2014
For further information, please contact:
Michele Arbour, Director of Education
Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
499 Pembroke Street West
Pembroke, ON K8A 5P1
Phone: 613-735-1031 or 1-800-267-019l