First- and second-graders at St. Joseph School in Olney participated in an Advent project called “Giving Our Hearts to Jesus” with encouragement from their teachers: Marcia Horstmeyer, Michelle Burgener and Casey Hemrich.
We began the Advent activity by sharing experiences of the preparations parents make for the birth of a new baby. After the discussion, the students thought about the things Mary and St. Joseph probably did to prepare for Baby Jesus. The teachers talked about their memories of celebrating the birth of Jesus, of giving their hearts to Him.
During the first week, the teachers asked their students to do something extra to help at home — take out trash, make a bed, clean up a mess or something that occurred to them.
The second week of Advent centered on prayers for others. The activity for the third week was sharing with those in need — earning money and buying a baby item to donate to the local Birthright.
The fourth week activity was to be happy — no whining and pouting.
Four symbols were added to the cut-out red heart each week to remind them of their gifts for Baby Jesus.
When they return from Christmas break, the students will make paper crowns and process while singing with their paper hearts to church to give them to Baby Jesus in the manger.
Other parishes have made outreach to others an important part of their Advent, including what some parishes call a “Giving Tree” where they collect gifts for the needy. At St. Damian in Damiansville, they make no secret of what they are collecting: hats and gloves.