Students and Faculty Celebrate the Holidays through Service

By Jackie Fletcher, Features Editor, and Elizabeth Witek, Staff Writer

Throughout the month of December, students participated in a variety of service projects almost every day during and after school, many of which were led by students.  

Freshman Final Project Becomes Reality

Final projects at Trinity Hall aren’t exactly conventional, but they are both educational and inspirational, as the students of Trinity Hall have proven. In June 2015, as their final project for freshman Theology class, students in the Class of 2018 created a service project that reflected one of the seven Catholic social teachings. The service project contained all the elements of a real project proposal.

One of the final projects, titled “Christmas Cheer for All to Hear” and originally proposed by Brigid Clifford, Jacqueline Fletcher, Kwapniewski and Courtney Vadon, was chosen to be implemented during the 2015 Christmas season. The real-life application of the project was especially rewarding not only for the students who gained valuable experience but also for the pediatric wing at Monmouth Medical Center as they were the recipient of that hard work. As project co-leader Kathryn Kwapniewski put it, “To see our project progress with the community’s support and finally watch the tremendous outcome was very exciting!”


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Freshman Mia H. organizes donated gifts under Trinity Hall’s tree.  Photo by Melissa Whelan.

“When we went to visit the children in the hospital, it was so amazing to see how happy we made them. These children live such a hard life and knowing that we were able to bring them happiness was such a good feeling! I hope that this will become an annual tradition at Trinity Hall,” said project co-leader Clifford.

The project’s goal was to provide joy in the pediatric wing at Monmouth Medical Center by bringing friendly faces and gifts to ill children during the Christmas season. Prior to the actual event, gifts were donated by the entire community and organized into festive bags for the children. Led by sophomores Kailin BurnsCohen, Clifford, Fletcher, Julia Henning and Kwapniewski, students took a bus to Monmouth Medical Center on Dec. 13 dressed as Santa, elves and Christmas carolers.

As a result of the generosity of the student body, the pediatric wing received a surplus of gifts, which allowed for the “Christmas cheer” to be spread long after the students left the hospital.  

“Both the patients and hospital facilitators were ecstatic that we were there to help liven what could otherwise be a very stressful time, and I know that we all couldn’t have been more honored to be part of such an experience,” Fletcher said.

Trinity Hall Students Help Support American Hero Dennis Zilinski

One of the clubs committed to service at Trinity Hall is the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club led by junior Alessandra Sanfratello. The SADD club aided the Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) division of the organization in running the annual Dennis Zilinski events held in honor of a courageous CBA alumni who was killed in action during his deployment to Iraq.

“The girls weren’t just there for community service hours; they were there because they wanted to help keep Dennis’s memories alive and raise money so that the troops overseas would benefit from it, too,” Sanfratello said.

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Trinity Hall community gathers in support at the CBA SADD Dinner on Nov 8.  Photo by Melissa Whelan.

In an effort to remember and memorialize this brave and patriotic lieutenant, a 5K walk and a dinner for the troops were organized and staffed by Trinity Hall and CBA students. The other main goal of these events was to raise money for calling cards and other materials for deployed soldiers.

Four students participated at the annual “Run with Dennis” event on Nov. 8 by handing out water and directing runners on the course. Thirty-five students were present at the dinner for the troops held on Dec. 8 where they served and prepared food.

“It was an honor for our SADD chapter to participate in this event again since we know that we are making a difference in the lives of our troops,” sophomore Gina Rienzo said. “Whether preparing the meal, serving food or greeting people as they walked in the door, the excitement we all exhibited was astonishing. I look forward to helping out again next year!”

Hunger Challenge Proves Satisfying

The Hunger Challenge, organized by sophomores Joanna Ferrer, Alexandria Principe and Gina Rienzo, called on the community to collect food as part of the larger “Students Change Hunger Challenge” run by the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. In order to make the Hunger Challenge more challenging, each class and the faculty competed against each other to not only collect the most food but to also make the most creative construction out of the cans and boxes they collected.

“[In] the sophomore class, we all encouraged each other to bring in more cans in order to display our grade’s devotion to ending hunger,” sophomore class president Kailin BurnsCohen said.

Ninth grade class president Kathryn Ortenzio, who put in extra effort to ensure success, said, “I printed extra flyers to pin in the cubby room and made a poster for the room we were collecting in. I am so proud of how many people brought in cans by the dozen!”

Overall, the students and faculty collected more than 1,000 pounds of food, earning first place in Division 2/High School of the “Students Change Hunger Challenge.”

And If All Of This Service Wasn’t Enough…

Melissa Whelan, service club co-advisor and theology teacher, organized more service projects on and off campus in addition to these student-led events. Students made fleece blankets, which were donated to the Church of the Precious Blood, for the homeless. Students also went to Holiday Express to put together care packages for the organization’s shows.

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Sophomores Cate T. and Cece J. show pride in their completed blanket.  Photo by Melissa Whelan.

Whelan also organized “Operation Sleighbell,” which invited students to bring in gifts of clothes and toys for underprivileged families just in time for Christmas.

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