It’s that time of year again… Time for our school’s annual fundraiser called “The Marathon”.
Since I was a child growing up in the parochial school system, the marathon has been around. It truly started out as a “Marathon”. Walk, Jog, Bike, or Run – 6 or 12 miles. Kids gathered pledges based on the distance they went. Then, participating schools from across Archdiocese gathered at Minnehaha Falls Park and headed out to complete their jorney. Then, as folks returned to their school’s gathering area in the park, volunteers where ready with picnic food! I have many fond memories of the Marathon, and need to dig through my parents old photos to see what I can come up with from back in the day.
Our kids' school also participates in “The Marathon”. While some schools still participate in an actual “marathon”, many schools hold different events to fundraise while celebrating in the spirit of The Marathon.
St. John the Baptist participates by holding a “Hands to Serve, Hearts to God” event. Our school takes on service projects for members of the community that may otherwise struggle, or are physically unable to accomplish leaf removal from their yards before winter sets in.
We rake the yards of the elderly or handicapped in our community.
Groups of parents, teachers, and students all head out with rakes in hand, and begin the task of raking 30+ yards. We split the school up into groups of 8-10 students with four teachers / adult chaperones per group. Each group is given a list of the houses that they are responsible for, and either walk or (if they are too far out of town) are bussed.
We were a walking group, so after a quick preparatory morning prayer, we took on our four houses, North of Second, and south of Fourth - between Mertens and Broadway.
This year, due to a ban making it illegal to dispose of yard waste in non-biodegradable bags, (which cost up to three times the amount regular bags do), the school located several people in need of leaf mulch, or are operating a moderate sized compost heap in which to dispose of the bi-product of our service..
Two of the dad’s with large trucks and huge trailers drove around to the various addresses, and picked up the leaves that the raking groups procured. We would rake HUGE piles of leaves onto giant tarps, and carry the leaves over to the trailers.
One very large strawberry grower was in need of leaf cover to help protect her strawberry patch from the ravages of the Minnesota Winter, while two “composters” were in need of some “brown” to mix in with their “Green” (brown being a necessary element in decomposition of “green” materials.)
This was so much easier than all the “bag stuffing” we have done in the past (not to mention more environmentally friendly). It was a “win” all the way around – for those that wanted the leaves as insulation or compost material, for us rakers who did not have to bag any of the leaves, and for the school who did not have to purchase any of the bags (bio-degradable or not)
The kids (of course) had a great time, raking leaves into piles (just to jump into them) using their rakes to knock down leaves that had not yet fallen (into the areas we had already raked), and even enjoying the abundant wildlife see (including the dead bird one of them raked up)!
After completing our four houses we started heading back to school for lunch when we got the call about another group who needed more help. They only had two yards on their list, but they were two GIANT yards COVERED in leaves! So we headed back to help this group. By the time we left that group behind, a total of three groups were present and cleaning this GIANT yard… Many hands make light work. Once all three groups were present and coordinated, the rest of that GIANT yard went very quickly.
Towards the end, “Group 3” (my group) headed back to the school for lunch. But as we passed one other group who was raking Father Yanta’s house (our Parish Priest who lives in the house adjacent to the school / church) – a couple of us stopped to help them out as well.
After finishing up the Group at Father Yanta’s house, we headed back into the school for lunch.
Hot Turkey sandwiches, carrot sticks, Sun Chips, caramel apples, and chocolate milk!
The students were dismissed to finish off what was left of the day, and I headed home. Once home, I crashed on the couch, and started dozing off…
It was a GREAT day (the weather was perfect), I was assigned to a OUTSTANDING group (of both kids and adults – including one of my own), and I truly had a wonderful day – all while raising money for the school and helping out our community!
Thanks to EVERYONE involved.