There are lots of traditions that surround homecoming at Bishop McNamara Catholic School in Kankakee, but increasingly one of them is community service.

Associate Michelle Barrie

The idea started in 2017, and for the past five years  Associate Michelle Barrie, working in her role as Office of Catholic Ministry Coordinator, has orchestrated three days of service, with nearly the entire enrollment going out into the community to help.

Over the course of three afternoons, students worked with their grade counterparts to help out at 16 different organizations, churches and agencies.

Students play UNO with nursing home residents.

Work sites include nursing homes, where they interviewed residents, did crafts and played card games, as well as cleaning and moving projects at two different parishes. Some of the football players also helped out at the Gift of God Street Church, a men’s shelter, rescue mission and soup kitchen in Kankakee.

Football players helped at Gift of God Street Church

These three days of service fit right in with the school’s mission, which is to maximize the potential of students — spiritually, morally, and intellectually — through a faith-based community of academic excellence and service to others.

“Homecoming is a big community event,” Michelle says, “and this was an extension of that community feeling, only we concentrated on helping others.”