Milly Jury, a second grader at All Saints School, cleans a book to be used in the future by a low-income child.
Milly Jury, a second grader at All Saints School, cleans a book to be used in the future by a low-income child.
Most Catholic schools require students to serve the community, from picking up litter to befriending children with disabilities. All Saints School in Northeast Portland has taken outreach to the next level.

A team of parents and staff from the 500-student school last year designed a service continuum, so children get a cogent variety of experiences from preschool through eighth grade. And each year, the kind of service students perform fits their age and confirms what they are learning in the classroom.  

Pre-kindergarten students are “Friends of the Earth” who recycle batteries and tend a garden on school grounds. Kindergartners reach out to people in the neighborhood, creating care packages for veterans, making Valentines for seniors and delivering flowers to neighbors.

In first grade, the theme is “Art for the Heart,” and students collect toys and art supplies for use at Ronald McDonald House, which helps sick children and their families.

Second graders gather books and clean them for needy children. In early November, the children worked over a large box of baby books, braving infant drool, dried oatmeal and smudged chocolate.

Third graders care for the elderly, making meals for residents of a hospice. Fourth graders work on feeding the hungry, helping at the Oregon Food Bank and packing meals for people who are homeless. It’s “Kids Helping Kids” in fifth grade, where students collect clothes and toiletries for use by Northwest Children’s Outreach and collect school uniforms for those who need them.

Sixth graders carry on a long All Saints tradition of befriending residents of Providence Hospital Center for Medically Fragile Children. Seventh graders are “Called to Discipleship” and carry out small aid projects they design themselves as well as promoting the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl collection during Lent.

Eighth graders are known as “Stewards of the School” and assist with tours, recycling, office work, hot lunches and assemblies. Eighth graders also lead food drives throughout the year.

There are three all-school projects: monthly sack lunch preparation for Catholic Charities Housing Transitions Program, the Giving Tree at Christmas and an annual fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“It’s a great opportunity for children to think outside themselves,” says Rose Rosinski, veteran principal at All Saints. “We want our students to know this: God has given you much and the expectation is that you become a giver.”

Rosinski, principal for 20 years, gratefully tracks graduates who enter the Peace Corps, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, teaching programs for low-income children and other service entities.  

The All Saints unified service program, overseen by the committee instead of operating as a patchwork, makes scheduling easier. No more collections scheduled in the same week or on the same day, for example. Parishioners get regular updates so they can take part.    

Service from All Saints has become “a very organized, thoughtful journey for students,” says Mary Faulkner, mother of a first grader who has served on the outreach committee.   
“In addition to teaching kids about what it means to be Catholic, it's so important to give them ways to show it and experience it,” Faulkner says.

“The school already had a great foundation of service but there were some inconsistencies,” says Amy Slavin, mother of a fifth grader and co-founder of the unified system. The project guides teachers, especially new ones. Slavin says each year’s project has a relational character, like meeting other kids or learning from a speaker.

“It’s not just collecting cans of food that just go out the door,” Slavin explains. “Our goal is that the children can be exposed to different aspects of society.”

“The goal was to create consistency for parents and children,” says Amelia Albright, mother of a third grader and kindergartner who helped design the progression. The committee made an effort to consider children’s developmental stages. For example, pre-kindergartners like to play in the dirt, so they get to garden. Second graders are famous for flexing their newfound reading skills, and so they collect book and clean them.

“My hope,” Albright says, “is that our students are better global and Catholic citizens.”