Lunches provided each week by Madeleine School families for Portland’s homeless are decorated with cheery pictures and notes. (Courtesy The Madeleine School)
Lunches provided each week by Madeleine School families for Portland’s homeless are decorated with cheery pictures and notes. (Courtesy The Madeleine School)
“When we say The Madeleine School is a faith-filled Catholic community committed to nurturing the growth of the whole child, we mean it,” says a school statement. “When we say that a Madeleine graduate is a prayerful, life-long learner who is socially responsible and responds to others with empathy and compassion, we mean it.”

The words come to life in a schoolwide service project, begun more than 25 years ago, which provides more than 8,000 lunches per school year to those in need in downtown Portland. One class each week is designated to bring in bag lunches that are delivered to a downtown parish by parent volunteers. A partner parish handles the distribution of the lunches to homeless teens, adults living on the streets, and shelters for women and families.

The commitment begins with the eighth-graders taking the lead on the second Tuesday after school begins in the fall and runs across all the grades throughout the school year. Lunches typically include a sandwich, fruit and snacks. Often, families bring in extras such as packs of new socks to help people stay warm in winter.