Just5Days is a five-day experience of service, hands-on learning activities, prayer and liturgy, and community building designed for groups of middle school youth and their adult leaders from Catholic parishes and schools. We had the pleasure of hosting a group from St. Joseph in Springbranch for the first time this year. We began by showing them several short videos of the work Mobile Loaves and Fishes does. By the end of the videos, there were eyes welling with tears and those who were excited to get to work. When I asked if they had any questions, the first student enthusiastically exclaimed “How can we help?!”. That zealous response fuelled everyone’s desire to help that week.
Each day during their lunch break, they gathered as a group to reflect on what meaning their day held. They’d come back in and ask us heartfelt questions about the hungry and homeless as they videotaped our responses. Each day brought about a more profound difference in their questions, insight and understanding. They had contests of how many hands they would get to shake each day and even handed out little foam hearts to bring a smile to others’ faces.
After helping with tasks around the commissary, they wanted to directly feed the homeless. We were not able to take them on a truck run that day, but decided they’d hand out cold water using their own vehicles instead. Trepidation and a little disappointment showed on their faces as we were getting the water together when lo and behold, a woman rushes in with 40 sack lunches from a children’s day camp that were about to be thrown away. God knew what these kids wanted to do and provided for them right on time.
The last day they made some prayer cards to put on the trucks and made me one as well. As we were wrapping up, a little girl came into my office to tell me her father had given her more money than she needed. She emptied her pocket and gave me $24. A young boy, seeing this, emptied his pockets of all of his change. He shrugged his shoulders sheepishly and said “that’s all I have”.
What the little boy didn’t realize is it was more than “that’s all I have”, it’s that he really gave all he had. I carry the prayer card they made in my purse to remind me of the caring innocence of these children and that with the right exposure and opportunity, they all have hearts of gold.