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Catholic Life Education Features Youth

Snyder school helps the homeless after witnessing need firsthand


Christ the King School asked, “What would Jesus do?” when students and faculty saw a homeless man rummaging for clothes in a donation bin in the Snyder school’s parking lot. The reply, of course, was to help. That man was allowed to take whatever he needed from the bin, but then Principal Maria Wangler took things to the next level.

“We wanted to do something that would help out our community and give back. We have a lot of blessings and we wanted to give some back,” Wangler explained. She went on to say that witnessing extreme poverty first hand via this stranger was a pretty traumatic event for those who saw it.

The students held a Dress Down Day, offering up a couple dollars each for the privilege of wearing jeans to class instead of their school uniforms. They raised $276 to go to the Buffalo City Mission to support the downtown center’s Thanksgiving efforts. They also drew and painted festive pictures that the mission will be used as placemats during its annual Thanksgiving dinner.

The Buffalo City Mission meets the basic needs of food and shelter to thousands of men and women each year. Often, once basic care services are met, people are able to make more transformative choices in their lives. The mission offers education, substance abuse recovery services, and financial literacy skills development.  

Buffalo has been hit hard with the Covid-19 pandemic. The mission has seen a 60 percent increase in the use of its programs and services since March.

“The partnership with others that come alongside the mission make a difference so we can do service for those who are in need, to uplift and encourage them, especially on holiday times when they are all alone,” said Suzanne Cervi, manager of volunteers for the mission. “And the gift (Christ the King School) brings will be used for our Thanksgiving meal, for our community that will be coming into the building as well as our residents. It tells them that somebody cares. They’re not alone.”

The project helped the CTK students feel that even at their young ages, they could make a difference in the lives of the needy.

“We prayed for him at school and we talked about it. Our need to do something grew from there,” explained Wagner.

“I think it was a way to talk through what that gentleman was going through. We wanted to not get mad at him for trying to take the clothing, but feel for him and his circumstances,” said Jeanne Ernst, director of Development for Christ the King.

Christ the King School Principal Maria Wangler (center) along with Jeanne Ernst (left), director of Development for the Sndyer school, vist the Buffalo City Mission to present Suzanne Cervi with a check and drawings from the CTK students to help the support the mission’s Thanksgiving program. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi