May 1, 2014
For the third year in a row, students at St. Anthony of Padua School gave back to those in need—and for the third year in a row, it was to a Burmese family.
Students gathered May 1 to meet A Cha La Par and her two daughters, John Ha Ne and John Esther, to ask questions and to present the family with money and grocery items.
“We raised 502 dollars this year, which was given to A Cha La Par and her two daughters,” said St. Anthony of Padua School first grade teacher Sheila Miller. “Of this, nearly 213 dollars came from aluminum can collections. Thanks to the Daniels family, they supplied a trailer, which people brought their cans to for several weeks. The Daniels family then took the cans to Amarillo to be recycled. We collected 387 pounds of cans.
“We were also very blessed to have received numerous cash donations, including 100 dollars from the first grade class. This was the most money we’ve raised so far in the three years we’ve been doing this project.”
Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle got involved by choosing A Cha La Par and her family. From there, it was Miller’s job to teach her students about the family’s homeland.
“Once a family was chosen for us, we began learning about their home country,” she said. “We found most of the information on the internet including: the national bird, the green peafowl; the flag of Myanmar, the current government’s name for Burma; the Burmese tiger; and the Burmese python. We also did a project incorporating technology, science and social studies by finding pictures of living and nonliving things from Myanmar on the internet to cut and paste into a Word document. After meeting with the family, the students voted to give these documents and all the pictures they colored to the family.
“We have also talked about how people are discriminated against or persecuted through lessons on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., martyrs and other saints. I found out, through previous families, that many people are being persecuted for different reasons in Myanmar and, therefore, having to flee the country or be put in jail or worse.”
The information Miller shared with her students resulted in numerous questions for A Cha La Par when she met the students May 1.
“Sharing this information with the students was how they came up with some of their questions,” she said. “They were not coached on what questions to ask, so I was really impressed with the ones they came up with.”
The project was also a lesson in Faith, and Miller takes her responsibilities about Faith very seriously.
“As a Catholic school teacher, I am charged with teaching my students about our Faith,” she said. “Our Faith is so much more than just 30 minutes each day in the classroom and attending Mass several times each week. I need to teach them not just what they need to know through the words of the Bible, but to live out our Faith as Jesus wanted us to. If we can teach them these values as young children, then hopefully it will become a way of life for them.
“If they learn that they can make a real difference in someone’s life when they are still little children, then maybe they will be living their lives like saints as adults. St. Francis taught, ‘Preach the Gospel always and everywhere, and when necessary use words.’ If I can help them learn what this really means by works in good Faith, then I will have done my job.”
If you had a chance, what would you do different?
“With the help of others in the church, school, and community, we would make this an ongoing project,” said Miller. “We would have a trailer donated to us to collect cans from anyone in the community all year long. Then we would meet with families and give away money, food and love more often.”