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Pallotti fundraiser benefits poor in other countries

Donning hair nets and plastic white aprons, St. Vincent Pallotti High School students and volunteers packed boxes full of more than 40,000 meals Oct. 18, including rice, soy and dried vegetables for people in Haiti and Guatemala.

The Pallotti community raised about $35,000 to fund the project through Cross Catholic Outreach, an international ministry that provides food, shelter, medical care and other services to the poor around the world.

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And for about three hours Saturday in the Pallotti gymnasium, about 250 volunteers, including Pallotti students and faculty members, worked in an assembly line atmosphere to pack 40,508 meals to be shipped overseas.

Students described the project as a worthwhile experience that didn't quite feel like work at all.

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"We know that it's going to help a lot of people and I'm grateful for that opportunity," said Ashely Marindale, a senior at Pallotti.

Pallotti volunteers packaged these meals on the last day of Pope Francis' "Week of Action" to end world hunger, Oct. 12-18.

"This actually ties right into his call to Catholics to feed the poor," said Sandy Pino, Pallotti's school and community initiative manager.

The goal was for the school to raise $25,000, but the school exceed that, raising $35,000 to pay for the meals and shipping costs, according to Nancy Vawter, director of Campus Ministry.

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Students raised funds by collecting donations every day, and turned the collection into a friendly competition with prizes for students, such as the class raising the most money receiving free tickets to homecoming.

All of the funds raised went into purchasing the food packed and sending the meals overseas, said Pino.

Last weekend's food-packing project is part of a larger Pallotti imitative, "Youth vs. Hunger," which is intended to teach students that they can change the world.

"We're saving lives in developing countries and then we're actually changing the hearts and creating charitable hearts in our Catholic students," she said.

This was the first food-packing event at Pallotti, although Pino said she hopes that it can become an annual project at the school.

"The enthusiasm has just been amazing, not only in fundraising, but just in the people who are participating," she said.

Pallotti organizers worked closely with the National Catholic Education Association on this project and hope other schools can emulate Pallotti's success, Pino added.

"We hope this will be a model for Catholic schools all over the country," she said.

Students, who went from classroom to classroom raising the funds within the last month, applauded the school's success.

"It was something fun to do as a whole school," said Katie Lamirande, a Pallotti senior.

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