Students and staff celebrated Lasallian principles during "Unity Day" on Monday, Feb. 3. Freshmen remembered the presence of God during a retreat in Canby, while sophomores showed respect for all by volunteering at senior citizen communities, food pantries, and social service agencies. Meanwhile, juniors and seniors displayed inclusiveness by exploring equity and inclusion during on-campus, student-led workshops.
After everyone started the day at school, the freshmen headed out for their retreat.
Then the sophomores climbed on buses that took them to their community service projects. One group spent the morning vacuuming, stacking loaves of bread, and wiping down shelves at Esther's Pantry, which gives food to the hungry and those with HIV. They also sorted donations at Tod's Corner, the clothing closet next door.
"Without the support and engagement of our groups, we couldn't do it," said Dev Burgoyne, volunteer coordinator of Our House, the umbrella organization of the two agencies.
Other teams of sophomores fanned out to assisted living facilities, schools, dining halls, and shelters in the Portland and Milwaukie area. Kate Collins '22 chatted with several senior citizens during a visit to the Princeton Village Assisted Living in Clackamas.
"It was nice to know they were excited to see us," she said.
Learning from each other
While the underclassmen volunteered off-campus, the juniors and seniors dug into student-led workshops on campus. Among the topics: "Building a World for the Disabled in a World Fit for the Able," "The Power of Dialogue," "Sex Trafficking: Breaking the System," and "Confronting Hate in School and Online."
During one session, students shared culture through food by making corn tortillas by hand. During another session - jubilantly dubbed a "Period Packing Party!" - students filled 164 paper bags with tampons and sanitary pads that will be distributed to the homeless who need them.
Alison Pagiuo '20, one of the seniors overseeing the packing party, said that providing sanitary supplies to the homeless helps them emotionally as well as physically.
"The health of our bodies impacts how we view ourselves," she said. "And how we view ourselves impacts how we put ourselves out in the world."
This year, every year
Vice Principal of Student Life Brian Devine said he hopes Unity Day becomes an annual event, a time when the school community steps up for strangers as well as students.
"We hope this series of activities show students how to build community, better understand one another, and live the banners that define us as Lasallians," he said.
Unity Day, added Director of Service Sarah Maher, "is a way to strengthen community and open minds and hearts."