ST. ED'S ANNUAL GIVING TREE ENCOURAGES GIVING BACK TO OUR LABRE MINISTRY AND LISTENING TO THE STORIES OF THE HOMELESS
As students returned from Thanksgiving break this week, they were welcomed with Christmas lights and decorations throughout the halls and St. Ed's annual Giving Tree displayed in the Kahl Center. Each of the ornaments on the St. Ed's Giving Tree represent a "gift" that we are asking for to help support the Labre Ministry, our weekly outreach ministry to the unsheltered homeless of Cleveland. Gifts range from hats, gloves, sleeping bags and other essential items to help those sleeping outdoors stay warm and safe during the winter season. For those who cannot make it to St. Ed's to take an ornament from the Giving Tree, our Campus Ministry department created an online Giving Tree wishlist through Amazon to make it more accessible for members of our community.
"Giving is at the very heart of the message of Christmas. The holiday itself celebrates the gift of the incarnation, that God cared for humankind so much that He became human to be with us. Christmastime invites us to join in with the sacrificial spirit of giving," says Mr. Liam Haggerty '02, VP of Mission Effectiveness. "Labre is truly a community-wide effort. The entire St. Ed's community is invited to get involved, whether through food preparation, going out to meet those experiencing homelessness, or donating food, clothing and financial resources. By extending the Giving Tree to an online platform, we are hoping this will provide an opportunity for those who are still very much a part of this community, who may not be in our building every day, to share in the Labre Ministry."
To raise more awareness about the homelessness within our city of Cleveland, St. Ed's senior IB Film students created a documentary entitled "Forest City Blues," which unveils the personal stories behind some of the men and women our Edsmen serve through Labre Ministry. This group of 19 Edsmen have been working since February to put this documentary together and showcased its trailer to the student body to encourage them to give back through this year's Giving Tree. "From the very beginning, this documentary was rooted in serving and stoking fellowship with our interview subjects," says Associate Dean of Academics & IB Coordinator Mr. Nick Kuhar. "Students began by simply serving on multiple Labre trips and, initially, brought no cameras in an effort to establish familiarity with the interviewees. Using the framework of documentary filmmaking, our seniors sought to give those who experience homelessness a platform to share just how complicated and human the problem is in our city. In this trailer, we hear and see narratives from citizens that resist easy classification; they challenge us to wrestle with the fact that 'everyone has a story' and asks us to engage with concrete, deliberate ways of helping our unhoused brothers and sisters." Click here to watch the extended trailer for "Forest City Blues," an IB Film documentary that aims to help our community connect more deeply with Clevelanders who've experienced homelessness.
"I think the video provides a different perspective, giving a voice to who these people are. I think a lot of times we judge people before they speak just by the way they look. This idea of cultural humility and letting the person speak before making any judgments comes from a place of love and compassion," says Mr. Rick Kubrak '07, Director of Service and Outreach. "The video helps me to reflect on our own Labre Ministry because I see the people that we serve as people just like me. We come together as friends who share fellowship. They are in a tough spot, but they need to know someone hears them and someone cares for them."
"The phrase 'everyone has a story' perfectly sums up Labre. It's about relationships. It's about learning from one another and that's what Labre is all about. It's an incarnational ministry, coming alongside and walking with those experiencing homelessness," says Mr. Haggerty. "I hope that the IB film students' video puts a human face to these stories and causes us to think more about homelessness. It's a crisis and it is, in many ways, hiding in plain sight. This video presents a challenge and to live out our theme, 'Go and Do Likewise.' I hope that our community is both inspired and empowered to respond to a true need and to tangibly live out the Gospel through their participation in this year's Giving Tree."