Students and staff at St. Augustine School in Andover made a donation to benefit the Inner City Scholarship Fund by wearing Valentine's Day colors Feb. 12. Students also sent Valentines to two inner-city Catholic schools as part of the event. Pilot photo/courtesy Kasey Calabro
ANDOVER -- "It is never too early to start educating students about the importance of giving what they have to help others," mused Kasey Calabro, third-grade teacher at St. Augustine School in Andover.
As a way of teaching her students the value of almsgiving in this time of Lent, Calabro created the "Spread the Love" event held Feb. 12, the Friday before Valentine's Day, at St. Augustine.
As part of the event, students, faculty and staff were encouraged to make a donation to "dress down" in Valentine's Day colors of pink, white and red to benefit the Inner City Scholarship Fund (ICSF). The ICSF is the signature program of the Catholic Schools Foundation of Boston, which helps thousands of low-income inner-city students attend Catholic school.
"For an extra donation, students were able to dye their hair red or pink, wear nail polish, or wear hats" -- all of which are not allowed in the school's dress code, Calabro continued.
"Since it is Lent and we have been talking a lot about almsgiving and service, it was a perfect time to educate students about the ICSF and a specific way they could help," Calabro explained.
The one-day event raised over $700. In addition, students wrote Valentine letters to students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Grammar School in Roxbury and East Boston Central Catholic School in East Boston.
Calabro said she was most impressed by the efforts of her third graders.
"Each and every student in my class expressed that their donation came from their own money," she said, calling the gesture "truly special."
"It was incredible to see and hear the students talking about their donations, how they earned their money, and how much they want to help students go to schools like ours," she added.
A firm believer in the value of Catholic education, Calabro, together with her husband, recently joined the Young Leader Committee of the ICSF. It was through her involvement with the Young Leader Committee that she came up with the idea for the "Spread the Love" event, she said.
"I have experienced first-hand, as both a student and a teacher, the major role that Catholic education has in the formation of students at every age," she said, noting that she is not only an educator at St. Augustine, she is also an alumna.
"The support you find in a Catholic school is unlike anything else. No matter the size of the school, each student is known and cared for by everyone," Calabro added.
She added that the ICSF brings that opportunity to children who otherwise would not be able to receive a Catholic education.
"It is a truly remarkable organization that provides students with priceless opportunities," she said.