Nearly 200 students at Our Lady of Loretto Elementary in Los Angeles gathered on the school playground the morning of April 21 to share prayer, song and solidarity during the official launch of “Aid for Ecuador,” a joint fundraising campaign by the Mission Office and Missionary Childhood Association.

Up to 80,000 Catholic elementary and secondary schoolchildren and religious education students across the three-county Archdiocese of Los Angeles are supporting the fundraiser via unique endeavors at their respective schools.

During the event at Our Lady of Loretto, representatives from each classroom collected money in a piggy bank, second graders sang “We Can Make a Difference,” and the entire student body jointly recited a special prayer.

In addition, a local Ecuadorian family who lost loved ones in the devastating quake shared personal testimonials. As of April 24, the death toll from the magnitude-7.8 earthquake on April 16 had surpassed 650, and nearly 60 people were still missing and more than 25,000 remained in emergency shelters.

“In this Year of Mercy let us come together as ‘one family in mission’ to aid our brothers and sisters in Ecuador,” said Msgr. Terrance Fleming, executive director of the archdiocesan Mission Office, during the April 21 kick off at Our Lady of Loretto. “Let us be generous with our financial and spiritual giving.”

An anonymous donor has pledged to match each dollar raised via the campaign (which runs through May 6) up to $100,000. One hundred percent of all funds collected will be distributed based on the recommendations of Sister Cindy Sullivan, BVM, director of the Center for Working Families in Quito, Ecuador.

Donations for the Aid for Ecuador campaign can be made online via the Missionary Childhood Association at:, or by check payable to “Missionary Childhood Association — Ecuador Emergency Relief Fund” and mailed to: Missionary Childhood Association, Attn: Msgr. Terrance Fleming, 3424 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010.