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U of D Jesuit students play Santa to 40 families in Detroit

Focus Hope Mass student delivery 1

Students at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy are be too old to believe in Santa Claus but they are certainly are ready to play the part. Better yet. They are embracing the true meaning of Christmas … faith and love.

This year they adopted 40 Focus:HOPE families in the Detroit community and raised money and collected gifts to provide those families with food, clothing and presents for the holidays.

They didn’t raise just a few dollars. The students collected more than $15,000 to purchase the items. Like Santa, they knew what each family needed. The students were given profiles by Focus:HOPE to guide their gift buying for each family.

Raising the dollars wasn’t enough. The students and parent chaperones from the U of D Jesuit Dads’ Club delivered the items to the individual families after an all-school mass.

Focus Hope Mass compressed

“We are so grateful to the U of D Jesuit community for all they do,” says Bill Wenzell, Focus:HOPE, manager of volunteers and community outreach. “Their students, faculty, and families have been partnering with Focus: HOPE for more than 30 years. They continue to make the world a better place.”

Helping families during the holidays is a long-standing tradition at the school. Every year since 1985, U of D Jesuit students have raised money and collected gifts over a four-week period to provide several families with food, clothing, and presents for the holiday season.

“U of D Jesuit and Focus:HOPE have created a partnership that has been a tremendous blessing for the needy families in our community. It has also helped our students to understand that those we serve are our brothers and sisters,” says U of D Jesuit President Karl Kiser, S.J. “Our students have the chance to learn the true meaning of the holiday season and what it means to be ‘Men for Others.’”

Focus Hope Mass Student delivery 2

Adopting families during the holidays is only one of the U of D Jesuit service outreach programs.

Earlier this year junior and senior students at the school decided no veteran should be buried without recognition for his or her military service to our country. To make sure these men and women receive the honor and dignity they deserve at death these students acted as pallbearers for those who might otherwise have no one at their graveside or funeral.

In October every one of the 900 young men attending U of D Jesuit spent the day sprucing up Fort Wayne and Belle Isle landmarks and serving at Cass Community Social Services, Gleaners Community Food Bank, Palmer Park, St. Paul Retreat, and St Raphael Orthodox Church.

“Community service by our students is part of our school’s DNA and a hallmark of a Jesuit education,” says Kiser.

As the angel Clarence says in the old holiday favorite movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” These young men are touching so many lives and U of D Jesuit is committed to making sure there is never a hole as each group of students moves on.

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