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School fundraisers are common, but a group of students at St. Vincent de Paul School recently took it to another level, raising enough money to build a house in Haiti.
The students, members of the school's Student Council and National Junior Honor Society, raised more than $1,000 to build the house by having "casual days" and bake sales.
The students chose the Haiti project for a rather simple reason: "Because our priest [Father Tom Sievel] goes to Haiti" to help families and children in need, according to Student Council President Sophia Klump, 13, an 8th grader.
Cheryl Panzo, a teacher at St. Vincent's and moderator for the National Junior Honor Society, said the Student Council and Honor Society students really epitomize the school's motto, which is "Bringing our faith, school, and community together through service."
St. Vincent's de Paul Student Council is a group of student leaders from grades 5 to 8 who collaborate with faculty to impact their school community, local community, and global community.
Together with National Junior Society, members provide school spirit and generous donations to those most in need in the community.
Beyond the Haiti project, the students collect items and toiletries for Vietnam veterans; raise money for firefighters' needs; collect money for Japan and Turkey; raise funds for people affected by hurricanes Irene and Sandy; made snowflakes for children in Newtown; and packed backpacks with school supplies for the East Haven Rotary Club and bag lunches at church for the homeless.
The students also collect hats, gloves, and scarves to bring to a homeless shelter in New Haven and make Thanksgiving and Easter food baskets for the East Haven Food pantry to give to the community.
Panzo and Student Council moderators Anna Marie Salzo and Deborah Borrelli work with the students on their service projects.
St. Vincent's, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is a small Catholic school, in the center of town, which houses classes from pre-kindergarten through the 8th grade.
The fact that the school is smaller than most means "we all get to know each and do a lot of school activities together," said 8th-grader Brianna Ferraiolo, 13, a member of the Honor Society.
Klump added: "We're all so close here-we're like brothers and sisters."