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11/13/2009
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Northland students collect clothing, toys for Ugandan school
By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter

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Marty Denzer/Key photo
Parents and St. Pius X High School students help St. Therese students pack barrels with clothing for a parish in Uganda.
KANSAS CITY — In the summer of 2007, Father Aloysius Kasoma visited several parishes in Kansas City north to talk about his parish in Makondo, Uganda. A friend of Father Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Church in Cameron, Father Kasoma hoped to interest Catholics in the northland in the needs of Catholics in Makondo. The villagers are mostly subsistence farmers, even their pastor, and all farm labor is done by hand.

In the months following his visit, St. Therese of Parkville parishioner and parent Stephanie Blydenburgh stayed in contact with the Ugandan priest and learned that his main concern was for more than 300 children of St. Athanasius School who attended classes under a mango tree because they lacked a school building. When it rained they didn’t have school and, with two rainy seasons each year, the children missed out on a lot of learning.

Blydenburgh broached the subject with Father Michael Roach, pastor of St. Therese, and with his encouragement contacted Mary Burns of the parish group Families of Young Children. The group at that time was organizing a charitable run, “Body, Mind and Spirit.” Blydenburgh said they graciously agreed to adopt the school as their charity. In 2008, Families of Young Children raised $10,000 to build a 4-room block school, and earlier this year raised $5,000 to put a roof on the block.

Father Kasumo visited St. Therese again this year, and the third through eighth grades attended a presentation about the children in the village of Makondo. Students in grades three, five and six adopted Father Kasumo’s village for their yearly service project. They organized a school-wide collection to send to Father Aloysius for the poor people of Makondo. The kids piled into cars the morning of Oct. 15 to go across town to the warehouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist on Noland Road in Independence. There they sorted, folded, rolled and packed clothing and other items in barrels. They discovered that St. Therese students and parishioners had donated enough to fill 29 large barrels and six small barrels with clothing, shoes, sewing, toys and hygiene items. The donated items along with office and school furniture, bicycles, medical supplies, sewing machines, school supplies, Catholic books and Bibles, linens and computers, will be shipped to Uganda in a 40-foot container by the Sisters of St. Francis.

The students plan another collection effort in April. o If you wish to help with this effort, the Sisters are in need of donations to defray the $13,000 shipping costs. The parish in Uganda is desperately in need of a tractor to increase food production and an egg incubator to help raise more chickens for food for the poor. For more information, contact Sister Andrea Kanter, Director of Mission Activity, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, (816) 252-1673.

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