If you see a bunch of high school boys working around Detroit on October 4, stop and give them a high five.
They will be part of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy’s Pledge Detroit! program. On that day the entire student body – 900 strong – will donate their time to help the local Detroit community. It’s the seventh year for the student-led service project, which sends students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni into the Detroit community to serve their fellow citizens at various locations and organizations within the city.
The boys, their families and U-D Jesuit staff will donate more than 5,000 man-hours between 8:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. working at several locations including Fort Wayne, Belle Isle, Chandler and Palmer Parks, Cass Community Social Services, Gleaners Community Food Bank, St. Paul Retreat Center, St. Andrew House, and the Urban Neighborhood Initiatives.
“Pledge Detroit! enables U of D Jesuit students to live out our school motto, ‘Men for Others’ in a productive manner,” says U of D Jesuit President Fr. Theodore G. Munz, S. J. “We have been part of the Detroit community for nearly 140 years and this school year marks the 40th anniversary of the decision by the Jesuits to keep the school in the city of Detroit. Service is an important aspect of the unique student experience at U of D Jesuit. Pledge Detroit! is an important opportunity for our students and the broader school community to demonstrate our commitment to mission and our commitment to Detroit.”
Since the Pledge Detroit! initiative began the U of D Jesuit community has given almost 35,000 hours of service to Detroit. It is the school’s approach to student fundraising. Instead of asking for money or selling raffle tickets, students collect pledges for student activities and co-curricular programs. In return the students clean up and volunteer.
“Pledge Detroit! is an unique opportunity for students here at U of D Jesuit in that it allows students to raise money to support co-curriculars and school activities, while at the same time presenting them with an opportunity to make an impact in the city of Detroit,” says Ryan Cullen, class of 2017 and Pledge Detroit! co-chair. “Pledge Detroit! helps the school, helps the student body, and most importantly helps the city of Detroit which is something we take great pride in.”
U of D Jesuit students participate in other activities including a weekly Senior Service program at schools, hospitals, hospices, and centers for the aged and less fortunate, monthly Focus:HOPE food delivery service to the elderly, an annual collaboration with Gleaners Food Bank and its “Mountain of Food” competition, and the Pallbearer Ministry, a pallbearer service for marginalized individuals and unclaimed veterans.
Their respect and service for those veterans goes much farther than carrying a casket. Before each funeral, the student pallbearers pray for the deceased. The students travel in a student carpool, take part in funeral procession, carry the casket to the grave and share in the prayers of committal. After returning to school, they reflect prayerfully on their experience.
The program began on last October when six senior-year students served as pallbearers for the funerals of three unclaimed veterans at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly. A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors conducted the three veterans’ funerals.
The Pallbearer Ministry has gotten national attention. It’s been covered by CNN, Today and the Huffington Post as well as local media. This blog site has also written about.
On Wednesday, October 5, 12 pallbearers from the school will carry the caskets of two unclaimed veterans for two funerals at the cemetery in Holly. The young men will carry the bodies from the Wayne County Morgue, process to the cemetery and be present for both funerals.
What a tremendous and meaningful way to thank and honor those veterans for their service.