Paying it forward: SCC collects gift cards for school impacted by Hurricane Ian

Published 1:23 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

LAPLACE — After the school and community were damaged by Hurricane Ida, St. Charles Catholic received an outpouring of support in the way of supplies, gift cards and donations for families in need. Now, the time has come to pay that kindness forward.

The Comet family recently collected more than $1,000 in cash and nearly $1,000 in gift cards to benefit Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, Florida. The Vikings are reeling from the impact of Hurricane Ian, a monster storm that left a path of destruction all too familiar to families in St. John the Baptist Parish.

The Clarion Herald reported that 65 families at Bishop Verot High School experienced flooding relating to Hurricane Ian and remain displaced from their homes. Many others are living under blue tarps.

Students and the community at large were invited to donate either $5 in cash or $20 in gift cards. In exchange for donations, students were allowed to participate in a Halloween dress down and costume contest.

Proceeds went toward the purchase of $2,000 worth of gift cards for food, gas and household essentials. St. Charles Catholic Principal Dr. Courtney P. Millet was blown away by the generosity of the students, and she looks forward to sending the gift cards to Fort Myers just in time to bless families for Thanksgiving.

While only a $5 contribution was required to participate in the school’s Halloween festivities, student Erin Powell said students were encouraged to give from their hearts with larger donations of $10 to $25.

“We are taught here that we serve God by serving others and helping people out. We believe that it’s really our mission to help any group that’s in need,” Powell said. “We have a bunch of service organizations that we participate in at SCC, and we go above and beyond as a school in my opinion to bring joy and peace to people in other parts of the world.”

Alexis Monistere recalls watching footage of Hurricane Ian’s destruction on the news and reflecting on how similar it was to the situation St. Charles Catholic families found themselves in just one year ago.

“We know what it feels like to have everything taken away from you in an instant, so it was just heartbreaking. You don’t want anyone else to have to go through what you went through,” Monistere said. “It feels nice to come full circle and now be able to help.”

Many of the students who donated to aid Bishop Verot High School have only recently settled back into a sense of normalcy post-Hurricane Ida. Mya Brown and Torie Joseph were among those who were displaced for several months after their homes experienced flooding and severe wind damage. Even now, their families are still in search of things like chairs for the dining table and the finishing touches that make a house a home.

Joseph recalled how other schools came forth with food, cases of water, non-perishable items and gift card donations in the Comets’ time of need.

When Brown heard of the opportunity to help another school in need, she was reminded of what she’s learned from her Catholic faith.

“Matthew in the Bible even says to do unto others as you would want them to do unto you,” she said. “They were able to help us so much that I felt like being able to help others in that same way was very rewarding.”

Student Matthew Schexnayder was more fortunate during Hurricane Ida, but he still saw the importance of contributing to a worthy cause.
“Humans have a natural compass to want to help others. To give anything is a good feeling,” he said.

Bishop Verot Principal Suzie O’Grady anticipates the gift cards will provide relief to families, not only financially, but also spiritually.