IGNITE Fall 2018 - Page 7

Each homeroom is tasked with decorating boxes for two children — one boy and one girl. The students work together to cover the boxes with drawings of birthday cakes, smiley faces, and encouraging birthday messages. “It helps students feel like they left their mark,” Schmidt says. “They want the kids who receive it to smile when they see the decorations.” The school community often contributes more items than will fit in the students’ creations, so Schmidt makes extra boxes herself. This year, the school was able to make a total of 33 boxes with the donated goods. Once the Birthday Boxes are prepared, students help load them into Schmidt’s van for delivery. She takes them to Mary’s Cupboard food center in Levittown, where the boxes are distributed to patrons in need. St. Ignatius participates in several collections, drives, and service projects throughout the year, but Schmidt says Birthday Boxes are a favorite among students and food pantry patrons. In fact, the program’s success has led to a surprise of its own. “We emailed Plfaum to thank them, since they’re the reason we started this project,” Schmidt says. “They sent me a response saying they would like to write a piece based on our school’s Birthday Box project.” The story is scheduled to run next month — in the November issue of Good News. “This project helps students have empathy for children who might not get to have the same experiences we do.”