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Fifth grade class raises $300

NATCHEZ — Giving up chocolate is one thing, but spare change for those in need — that’s easy.

As part of a Lenten service project, the fifth grade at Cathedral School raised nearly $300 for Operation Rice Bowl, a Catholic Relief Service.

In less than 40 days since Ash Wednesday, the container one class used for their collection had all it could take.

“The bottom split open,” fifth-grader Maggie Ulmer said.

The fifth grade presented a check for $292 to the Rev. David O’Connor Tuesday.

“I thought it was really cool,” fifth grader Emma Homan said.

“It’s not every day you get to walk up to a priest and hand over $300.”

Of the money the fifth grade raised, 75 percent will help fund development programs designed to increase food security around the world.

These projects focus on initiatives that bring clean water, small enterprise development, agricultural expertise, education and AIDS health programs to the poor in more than 40 countries.

The remaining 25 percent will go to struggling Catholic parishes in the United States.

“It’s good to help out other kids who don’t have as much as we do,” Ulmer said.

“We have all this food that we can just go in the pantry and get it.”

O’Connor said paper containers for Operation Rice Bowl have been collecting spare change since 1975. The containers are often placed on a dresser or bedside table to collect spare change during Lent, O’Connor said.

“The season of Lent is intended to be a time of making sacrifices and reaching out in almsgiving to people in need,” O’Connor said.

Following an Ash Wednesday school service given by O’Connor, teacher Jamie Gibson said she asked her class if they wanted to do a classroom service project.

The class took a vote and decided to go with Operation Rice Bowl, which O’Connor mentioned in his sermon.

Turning the loose change drive into a competition between the boys and the girls and the two fifth-grade classes added some fun.

“(Girls) are more generous,” said a defeated fifth-grader Samuel Freiberger. “We’re all territorial and stuff.”

Girls beat out the boys in both classes.

“We rock,” Ulmer said.

Ulmer and Stewart said they tried to help around the house, like feeding pets and washing dishes, to earn money to drop in their container.

Freiberger and classmate Christine Harrison said they gave up chocolate for Lent, but they hadn’t been doing so well.

Even pledging not to fight with her sister was tough for Homan, she said.

Freiberger said he learned a lot about how giving people can be by watching his classmates and those around him.

“I think it’s amazing how much people give every day at church,” Freiberger said.

Stewart agreed.

“It was really good for us fifth graders to learn how to give and help others.

“And it got really fun,” Ulmer said.