More than 1,000 students, parents and alumni from Loyola and other area Catholic high schools volunteered across the city at 150 different service sites during an historic “Day of Service.”
The day served as an integral part of an ongoing yearlong celebration of the school’s 150th anniversary as the oldest continually operating educational institution in Southern California. The day of service, which lent a helping hand from Long Beach to East LA to Loyola’s own Pico-Union neighborhood, exemplified the school’s motto, “Men for Others.”
“Community service has long been a hallmark of Loyola education as we educate men for others in this great city. Los Angeles has helped mold our students, encouraging them to learn the lessons necessary to become tomorrow’s compassionate leaders,” said Loyola President Father Gregory Goethals, SJ, ’73.
The monumental Day of Service took months of planning and working with partnering organizations to implement. Community service opportunities were set up with Loyola’s many long-standing relationships including area Catholic schools and shelters, public schools, hospitals, homes for battered women, the veterans’ center, Skid Row missions, Homeboy Industries and Hollywood youth centers.
Volunteers also worked at local Catholic parishes where painting and beautification took place. At St. Thomas Parish in Los Angeles, the students and alumni took their community service one step further.
“The volunteers helped 10 different families from the parish. They went to their homes and painted. Some planted gardens too. We try to teach our students to work and pray for the common good and to build the kingdom of God, and they did just that,” said Tom Zeko, director of community service.
Loyola worked in tandem with Big Sunday, Special Olympics and the Los Angeles Archdiocese and Habitat for Humanity for additional community service opportunities. Habitat for Humanity came to the campus of Loyola High School, where about 20 students worked side-by-side with their parents to build and paint playhouses for four local parochial schools.
The playhouses, painted in bright primary colors, will be used by pre-K and kindergarten students at under-resourced schools in the archdiocese.
The Loyola football team came out en masse to volunteer their time at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in Vernon. About 130 volunteers, including teammates, parents and coaches, arrived early Saturday morning to make food kits to be distributed to roughly 23,000 senior citizens and women with infants throughout Los Angeles County.
The football team showed true team spirit as they worked together non-stop, making up kits complete with food items like bran cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and boxed dairy products.
“It was an exceptional opportunity to get all of the boys together to work hand and hand, side by side as a team. It is similar to what they do on the field,” said Sandra Fuchs, Loyola football mom.
“As we chartered the events for the sesquicentennial, community service jumped to the forefront as a pivotal part of the yearlong celebration and outreach. The day of service became the capstone to bring the Loyola community together in gratitude for lessons learned,” said Loyola High School 150th committee chair Jack Girardi, ’65.