Operation Love: 7th Grader Led Fellow Students to Cook for Homeless at Christmas

“Go in peace, glorifying The Lord by your life.” We hear these words spoken to us at the end of every Mass. To most 12-year-olds, these words translate to, “Wahoo, this show’s almost over! Where are we eating?” However, Lucas LeBlanc, a 7th grader at St. Joseph School, is not your ordinary 12 year old.  He took this final commission, echoed by Pope Francis’ challenge to “Take the church to the streets,” and used it as the driving force behind “Operation: LOVE” – a project conceptualized by Lucas and executed by him and 18 of his middle school friends, their parents, teachers, and school administrators.

The idea behind Operation: LOVE began when Lucas and his mother, Colleen, like many of us, were wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. Lucas pointed out that in a short amount of time they had spent more money than some people will spend for their entire Christmas. That led into a conversation about the true meaning of Christmas and concluded with Lucas offering to cook a real Christmas meal for the homeless. Lucas said, “Mom, this is what God would want us to do.”

Lucas accepted the challenge and formed a committee to handle the logistics of putting together a meal to feed the homeless. Lucas contacted Christian Services about working with their staff to aid in their Christmas meal. Though the empowering leadership of Alvin Moore, executive director of Christian Services, they launched a full-fledged project of providing, cooking for and serving a Christmas meal to the homeless and less fortunate in our community.
Lucas and his team solicited the help of the St. Joseph School student body and the students in the PSR program to help provide food items, toys and personal hygiene products for the love bags.During the middle school Advent party students assembled and wrote personal Christmas notes for 200+ Love Bags, finished the placemats drawn by the elementary school students and prepared song books for the Christmas carols that were sung at the meal. Over 300 men, women and children were fed a bountiful meal, loved by our families, entertained by Christmas carols and blessed with a special visit from Santa Claus.

One’s happiest memory of the holidays encompasses not the materialistic items received, rather the love shared with family, friends and even perfect strangers. It is the sharing of love that embraces the “why” behind Christmas and Operation: LOVE.

by Kevin Nolten, St. Joseph School

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