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Traditions: Students spread joy with carols and meals
By Emily Topper
Once they realized they had an audience, Amy Kitowicz’s first grade students weren’t shy about singing or breaking out the dance moves at Father Pat’s Kitchen. After all, Henry Altman said, that’s what they were there to do.
“It’s about spreading joy to the world,” Henry, 7, said.
It was the 10th year that Kitowicz brought her Waccamaw Elementary School class to Father Pat’s to serve warm meals and sing Christmas carols. Located on the campus of Precious Blood of Christ Roman Catholic Church, Kitowicz uses the annual field trip to teach her students about service.
“They’re learning to serve and care and share, and that’s the true meaning of Christmas,” Kitowicz said. “I really believe, even though they’re in first grade, that they understand their purpose. And their purpose for being here is to serve others, to understand that there are people who are less fortunate than them and that we are here to help others.”
In between rounds of serving spaghetti, pizza and desserts, students gathered on stage wearing Santa hats and silver bells to sing for their lunch guests. The Rev. Patrick Stenson, the kitchen’s namesake, was in the audience.
“It’s a tremendous program,” Stenson, who retired in March, said. “That’s what our faith is all about, caring for the brother and sister. This time of year is all about a child, the child Jesus. The children come from the school and bring us great joy and cheer us up. They honor all of us just by coming and singing.”
Kitowicz is a member of Precious Blood. She said Stenson inspired her to start the annual tradition with her class.
“Father Pat taught me long ago that you can teach the kids how to read, how to add numbers,” she said. “But if you can teach them how to be kind and how to give to others, that’s a really good gift to give.”
Her students also handed out ornaments and candy during the lunch. Kitowicz said she was impressed by how well her students interacted with those they served.
“They’re doing a wonderful job,” Kitowicz said. “It warms my heart.”
Many students, like MaKenna Freeman, took pleasure in giving back.
“It was so fun,” MaKenna, 7, said. “We were giving stuff to the people. It put big smiles on their hearts.”
Ashley Cameron, Waccamaw Elementary principal, watched students perform. New to the school this year, she said she would encourage community service projects at the school.
“I’ve had several teachers come up to me with ideas,” Cameron said. “I’m on board for any service projects our kids can do. This is amazing and I’m proud to see the kids giving back. It’s good to see that the kids have good examples that translates to them coming in and helping out.”