by Cori Hilsgen
All Saints Academy-St. Joseph students are busy with the school’s annual Advent Box service project.
Each year, the students give of their time, talent and treasures to help make Christmas time more fun for other children in the area.
All Saints Academy students will fill shoeboxes with donated items and give them to Place of Hope Ministries in St. Cloud, an organization that helps homeless people in the area.
Second-grade teacher Betty Pundsack has helped coordinate the project for the past 12 years. Kathy May, parent of a fourth-grade All Saints Academy student, has also helped Pundsack with the event for several years.
“This is our 14th year, using the season of Advent, to share a bit of what we have with others,” Pundsack said.
Each year, the students have a goal to provide 100 shoeboxes to Place of Hope.
Several students commented about the project.
“It makes me feel good to help other kids feel happy,” said kindergartener Slone Husen.
“I like sharing with others,” said Anthony Scholz, a first-grader. “It makes me happy and grateful that I can help.”
“I enjoy giving things to other kids,” said sixth-grader Mary Clare Colberg, who has been a part of this project for at least eight years.
“I like helping people who aren’t as blessed as I am,” said fifth-grader Wyatt Kutzera. “It makes me feel happy to help the homeless.”
Last year, students filled 20 large bags containing 100 wrapped shoeboxes filled with items for Place of Hope clients. These boxes were filled with games, snack items, school supplies, hats and gloves and other items that would fit in a shoebox.
Students use the season of Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, to collect items for the shoeboxes.
During the week before Christmas vacation, students in pre-school through sixth grade fill the boxes and wrap them, with help from teachers and staff to ensure items are equally distributed.
The shoeboxes are delivered before the annual Place of Hope children’s Christmas event, which is usually held the Thursday before Christmas.
Currently, All Saints Academy is accepting donations that fit inside a shoebox for children who are ages infant to teenager.
Items wanted include small toys, hats, gloves/mittens, socks, jewelry, snacks, school supplies and more.
Donated items can be placed in the “Advent Box” located in the Church of St. Joseph Catholic Church’s east entrance.
All Saints Academy originally chose to donate to Place of Hope because of its programs involving children, many of whom are homeless.
Place of Hope, located at 511 Ninth Ave. N., St. Cloud, serves people in the tri-county area who are in need and works to help rebuild, repair and restore lives by offering meals, housing, “hope” and other services.
Many area churches and organizations partner with Place of Hope to help with its programs.
For additional information, visit the placeofhopeministries.org website.