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Lent and Easter

Notre Dame Academy find eggscellent way to celebrate Easter

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Notre Dame Academy has found a way to mix Christian service with the more secular side of Easter, coloring eggs. The pre-K 3 students of the South Buffalo regional school colored 10 dozen eggs to donate to the Our Lady of Charity food program. 

Pre-K students at Notre Dame Academy in South Buffalo color Easter eggs, which were donated to the Our Lady of Charity Community Dinner Program. (Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Academy)

Our Lady of Charity Parish started a dinner program five years ago under the guidance of then pastor, Father Bryan Zielenieski. After noticing that the South Buffalo Community Table serves meals Sunday through Thursday and The Genesis Center has lunch on Saturday, Our Lady of Charity decided to fill in on Friday night void.

“Friday nights there was no place for anyone to have a meal. So, we started to serve them out of the kitchen at Holy Family (worship site),” said Anne Marie King, the point person for the program.

It started with dine-in meals, with no criteria for being served.

“It was more community based then. If anybody needed socialization or just a meal, they could come in, sit and have dinner,” explained King.

Covid, of course, changed that. Now operating as take-out only, the parish serves 60-70 meals a week, to people of all different ages and needs.

The program has received generous monetary donations from Hodgson Russ Charitable Foundation and donations of ground beef from Zielenieski Farm. So, there is an operating budget and meat. Volunteer groups within and outside the church cook up goulash, spaghetti, shepherd’s pie, chicken, and even hot dogs in the summer. A typical meal may consist of soup and sandwich, with fruit, dessert and a bag of chips. This week they receive Easter eggs as well.

Paula DeAngelis, NDA’s Advancement director, notified King that the pre-K 3 kids were decorating eggs and offered them as a donation for the Easter meals.

“They want to instill that sense of helping people in need at a young age,” King said of the school’s virtue-based curriculum.

King stopped in to meet her little helpers on April 8. “They were all so cute, wanting to tell me what color they colored them,” she said.

Mary Anne King, from Our Lady of Charity Parish in South Buffalo, meets with some of the kids from Notre Dame Academy who donated 10 dozen Easter eggs to the Our Lady of Charity Community Dinner Program. (Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Academy)

Along with a day of coloring the eggs, the students had a lesson on generosity, which is a little foreign to 3-year-olds. An earlier project saw the kids making blankets and wanting to keep them. Being egocentric is age-appropriate, but now the kids have learned to think of others.

“We explained that some people don’t have as much food or toys or clothing as we do, so it would be nice to help someone. The little ones were real receptive. They said, ‘Aww, we’d love to,’” explained MaryBeth Fay, pre-K 3 teacher.

“We’re a community-based school. The kids enjoy doing it. It’s a great way to teach the kids at a very young age about giving back to those who do not have a lot of food,” added Jean Marie Roche, also a pre-K 3 teacher.

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