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Notre Dame Academy rocks Socktober by giving back to community

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Fourth-graders Chloe, Michael and Hannah drop off some fresh socks during Notre Dame Academy’s Socktober event. The much-needed items will go to the Response to Love Center and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

Where does the time go? It seems school just started and already it’s Socktober. The students at Notre Dame Academy adopted this autumnal month for a service project of collecting socks for the less fortunate.

The South Buffalo school has a year-round program that combines learning a virtue with performing a corporal work of mercy – putting words and actions together to help the community. In October the students learn about the virtue of courage and how to clothe the naked.

“We’re trying to do something to connect our virtues, to our character traits, to making each child a better child,” explained Jenniffer Maslakowski, who started as principal last month. “And we want them to come with more of a background than what a public school would offer by learning that helping others, giving to others is much better than receiving. What we really try to do every month is to try to get our kids interactive into the community somehow to help other people, such as using this Socktober program having them bring in the socks.”

Big blue bins line the hallways just waiting for the kids to drop in new socks by the pair and package. Some kids really get into the Socktober theme by bringing in colorful Halloween socks. Others consider the upcoming cold weather and bring warm hunting socks.

The generosity of giving is tied into courage by teaching the students that doing new things, even if it’s the right thing, can be scary sometimes.

Some of the fourth-graders looked at times when they needed courage the most. Some saw the benefits of being brave, like Chloe, who faces her fears when horseback riding. Due to the size of the animal and the size of its step, you’re never quite sure what to expect when you get on a strange horse.

“I honestly take a deep breath in whatever I do and just do it,” she said.

Hannah sees the benefits of being strong and using courage when facing the unknown.

 “Maybe if you’re on the tallest roller coaster. If you’re scared of roller coasters, you’re going to need a lot of courage to go up to that top and you’ll go down and you’ll have fun,” she said.

Michael needed courage when he has to get inside a tiny dark crawl space in his house, which he graphically described as “like movie spooky mood. It feels like a demon is going to come out right behind a corner and rip my skin off.” He finds strength in numbers by facing the challenges with his father and siblings.

Notre Dame Academy finds its strength in the South Buffalo community. Most of the monthly projects serve the immediate area. This month they are branching out somewhat by donating the socks to the East Side ministries, Response to Love Center and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy.

“Here we do something for the community, no matter what, every month,” said Maslakowski. “And it goes right back into our own community, which is even better. It’s going right back into our family. So, someone else in this community is benefiting from us. I think that’s key.”

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