Loretto College School students Fiona Kazazi Cerkozi, Madison Scolieri and Monica Goncalves with the goods students collected for Ukraine. Photo by Michael Swan

Loretto College Ukraine donation aims to make a difference

  • April 29, 2022

All labelled and sorted, in bags and boxes, the Loretto College School chapel is crammed with stuff — all of it headed for Ukraine by way of St. Demetrius the Great Martyr Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toronto’s west end.

Collecting clothes, diapers, toothbrushes and disinfecting wipes is all about trying to make a difference, said student Stella Shone. Shone’s mother is Polish, originally from near the Ukraine border.

“I hope to make a difference in people’s lives,” Shone said.

For comfortable, middle-class Toronto Catholic high school students, not doing something in response to the refugee crisis and war in Ukraine is unimaginable, said Monica Goncalves.

“We have all this and we always take it for granted,” said the member of student council.

School chaplain Mary Frances DeNisco was moved to organize the student-led effort by the images she was seeing on the news.

“The first time I saw an image of a woman running with a baby in her arms, a backpack on, running for their lives, that image really crushed me,” said DeNisco. “I had to do something. The world has to do something.”

Clothing drives, gift drives and charitable activity are constants at the Catholic girls school. Charitable drives for the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Angel Foundation, ShareLife and a local women’s shelter are monthly events. The special needs students lead the Christmastime “Tip the Tree” event that collects warm clothes and presents for the Catholic charity You Are Loved Toronto.

“My job (as chaplain) is to affirm the faith of this school,” said DiNisco. “I think I do that by teaching the importance of service.”

Shipping boxes of clothes and disinfecting wipes across Europe by ship and by truck might not be the most efficient way to deliver aid to Ukraine, but it has a spiritual value, said Ukrainian Catholic Deacon Andrew Bennett.

“It’s right, it’s important, it’s beautiful, it’s true,” Bennett told The Catholic Register. “Because what’s motivating these young people is to do what is right, to do what is true.”

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