Pope Francis on Friday met a group of East Harlem students who have been doing their part to carry out a Catholic mission embedded in personal sacrifice -- and they plan to continue to do so long after his visit to the United States. NY1's John Schiumo introduces us to our New Yorkers of the Week.
“It’s important to give back, because its showing love," says eight-year-old Justin Blanco.
These students at St. Ann School in East Harlem are showing love, one donation at the time.
It’s a testament to the dedication they have for giving back to the community.
“No matter what position you are in life, there’s always someone you can help out. So to teach the children that sense of service and to take care of their fellow man is such a huge part of our Catholic formation," says St. Ann School principal Hope Mueller.
On this day, they’re sorting and packing a month’s collection of goods for the Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan.
The non-profit helps children living with cancer and their families during long hospital stays.
“I'm trying to help the people that have cancer and that are sick and are away from home. That’s why we have the goods for the kids," says eight-year-old Logan Colon.
“It’s important, because if you were sick and wanted someone to help you, they would help you and you would feel happy. You should do the same thing too," says nine-year-old Jaylin Gratereaux.
These second and fourth graders say they find inspiration in the words and actions of Pope Francis.
Their commitment to community service is in honor of his call to help those less fortunate.
“I feel good that I have done something to help others," says eight-year-old Noah Rodriguez.
They do it year-round at St. Ann’s.
Students plant flowers to beautify the neighborhood, they volunteer at a senior center, and ring bells with the Salvation Army during the Christmas holidays.
"They’re more compassionate. One of the children told me that they were going to watch kids on the playground to find out when somebody was playing by themselves and go and help them. So it seems to be really becoming engrained in them to take this mission on as a lifestyle, not just one act," says Mueller.
And so, for devoting their time to improving the lives of others, the students and staff at St. Ann School are our New Yorkers of the Week.