TRENTON, NJ - On any given day in Catholic schools, students are involved in the effort to help others. From raising funds for non-profits to visiting nursing homes and stocking food pantries, there is no limit to the many acts of charity and kindness that are undertaken as a part of the Catholic school experience.
But in recent weeks, this commitment to service has taken on a singular focus for the 31 Catholic elementary schools of the Diocese of Trenton. The schools have been participating in “Hearts to Hospitals,” the diocesan-wide Catholic Schools Day of Service, which benefits hospitalized children and their families in roughly a dozen medical facilities spanning Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The Catholic Schools Day of Service was launched as an annual effort by the Diocese’s schools in 2015, but transitioned to the “Hearts to Hospitals” cause in 2018. The campaign features the collection of gift cards and new toys that will be donated to participating hospitals with the aim of making time spent there by young patients and their families more comfortable and pleasant. Last year totals of toys and gift cards collected exceeded 10,000 toys, books, crafts and games, and more than $13,000 in gift cards for convenience stores, restaurants, grocery stores and more.
The 2019 collection efforts began in April with students enlisting the support of their families, parishes and business persons within their wider communities. Among the desired items were coloring books and art supplies, small toys, games, books and crafts. Other requested items include gift cards for convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations and grocery stores. Collections concluded May 3, the official 2019 Day of Service, when students worked together to assemble the donated items and package them into gift bags for the hospital patients and family members.
These contributions will be formally recognized during a press conference at 10 a.m. May 7 in the Chancery in Lawrenceville. The live-streamed event will bring together students and staff members from participating schools, along with representatives of the participating hospitals. Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. and diocesan school officials will also be there to congratulate the students and schools.
To view the live stream of the press conference, connect with DioceseofTrenton.org .