Iby Joe Nolan ’20
In a society in which the thought of Thanksgiving immediately springs to the mind images of turkey, football, and parades, most people forget about the true meaning of the holiday – to give thanks to our Lord for the countless blessings and opportunities that He has provided for us. As Christians, it is our mission to express this gratitude in some way, shape, or form. One of the most effective of ways to go about this is by aiding the less fortunate. Not only does this help us better appreciate all that we have, but it also allows us to appreciate and exalt the one behind all of the good in our lives – our Heavenly Father.
Every Thanksgiving, members of the Chaminade family band together to express their gratitude in a meaningful and helpful way. Chaminade’s annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive took place this past Tuesday and Wednesday, November 21 and 22. Students and faculty were urged to leave common toiletries, such as soap, lotions, and paper towels, in the baskets located in their homerooms and in the Darby Auditorium lobby. These gifts were later taken by Emmaus volunteers and Junior GSO members to the Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village, a nursing home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The Queen of Peace Residence opened its doors in February of 1970; this nursing home cares for nearly 80 elders who are without family and money. Volunteers from Chaminade have been visiting the residence for the last 28 years, solidifying a special relationship between the Marianists and the Little Sisters of the Poor, two religious orders who have bonded through a shared, unfailing belief in our Lord and a desire to perform His work.
Members of the Little Sisters of the Poor, along with college-aged Chaminade alumni, attended Chaminade’s annual Thanksgiving Mass in the Activity-Athletic Center (AAC) on Wednesday morning. The Mass celebrated by Rev. Thomas M. Fusco ’77 from Our Lady of Victory Parish in Floral Park. At the celebration, representatives from each homeroom and members of the cross country team placed their donation baskets on the altar.
At the Mass’ conclusion, Sister Maria Catherine of the Little Sisters of the Poor addressed the student body. She admired the fact that while our contributions may seem commonplace to us, they mean the world to the Queen of Peace residents.
At the conclusion of the school day, members of Emmaus and Junior GSO, under the direction of Mr. Daniel Haslbauer ’11 and Mr. Brian Anselmo ’89, respectively, volunteered to sort the donations in the Pieta Lobby of the AAC. These students then traveled to the Queen of Peace Residence to deliver the donations to the residents.
“It is great to see the young men at Chaminade take time out of their lives to help those who need it,” said Mr. Daniel Haslbauer ’11, moderator of Emmaus. He noted that a critical aspect of expressing gratitude is serving others.
“For the most part, students here at Chaminade are very blessed and come here blessed,” Mr. Haslbauer explained. “Helping to give back to the community is the best way to show how thankful we really are. What’s really great is that the drive reminds us of what Thanksgiving is really all about – giving thanks through giving.”
Giving thanks through giving – something very simple, yet something that so many people forget while caught up in a whirlwind of food comas and Black Friday deals. Helping your neighbors doesn’t have to be anything major; rather, any small act of kindness, whether it be donating a roll of toilet paper, giving some money to the nursing home, or even going to visit the residents personally, lives up to Thanksgiving’s spirit of service.
The Thanksgiving Basket Drive was a success in two ways: it helped the residents of the Queen of Peace who needed it the most, and it allowed the young men of Chaminade to understand how blessed we truly are, as well as how we can share that gratitude with others.