Our Lady of Grace, the Pallottine school located in Fairview, New Jersey, has for years dedicated its services and volunteers to assist those less fortunate. With the guidance of Father Peter Sticco, several of the parish’s organizations such as the UAC and the youth group have participated in several fundraisers and events of service throughout the years. Jason Feliciano, a member of the youth group for over 15 years and the fourth grade teacher and Supervisor of Discipline at Our Lady of Grace, created a walk-a-thon fundraiser event entitled, Footprints for Charity. The event allowed the students to vote on which charity they would prefer all of the donations to be sent to. After a school-wide vote, the children decided that Our Lady of Grace’s first Footprints for Charity walk-a-thon event would donate all of its proceeds to St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
In the Mary Stevenson poem, “Footprints in the Sand”, Jesus walks with a traveler as visions of the traveler’s memories flash before them. It is during the most difficult times that the traveler notices only one set of footprints in the sand. As Jesus is questioned about where he was during the most troubling times, Jesus simply responds, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints are when I carried you.” The idea behind the name Footprints for Charity was that each child, parent, faculty member, and parishioner that participated in the walk would be acting as the one set of footprints carrying those less fortunate as one hundred percent of the proceeds made during the walk would be donated for the patients of Saint Jude’s Children Hospital.
On Saturday June 7, 2014, over 60 of Our Lady of Grace’s students, teachers, and parishioners gathered for the near two mile walk. As they walked each of the five laps, everyone laughed, talked, and cheered each other on as they walked each of the five long laps. At the end of each lap, the walkers were greeted with music and applause. In addition, water and prayer cards were given to each participant, and items such as commemorative towels were available for purchase.
The walk was a great success. The Footprints for Charity walk-a-thon event raised about $2,300 for St. Jude’s Children Hospital. Everyone involved had a wonderful time, and Father Peter believes that walk-a-thon even may have just created a new annual event.