When it comes to doing works of service, the students in St. Ann School can really kick some A_S. 

The middle letter, by the way, is an “L.”

The Lawrenceville school recently assisted the “Hope Loves Company” nonprofit, which provides educational and emotional support to young people, or their loved ones, who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. They did so by helping spread smiles through a “Chalk Challenge” in which students designed chalk drawings on their sidewalks and driveways. The drawings had to include the phrase “Kick Some ALS.”

The phrase, or a variation of it, was a way “to help raise the spirits and support the children who are watching family members suffering from the disease,” said Salvatore Chiaravalloti, St. Ann School principal.

He noted that because chalk had become scarce and unavailable to purchase, the challenge parameters were broadened to allow students to do their drawings on poster board or other paper they might have at home.

“This is an organization helping children, so we felt it was very important to have our children helping children,” Chiaravalloti said. “To feel supported by your peer makes a world of difference, and this is a key pillar of what St. Ann School is all about.”

The “Chalk Challenge” came about after the annual diocesan Day of Service was canceled for the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Day of Service, sponsored by the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools, is a project held each spring during which all Catholic grammar schools in the Diocese simultaneously participate in some type of outreach on a designated day.

The cancelation, however, did not stop schools like St. Ann and Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown, from finding other ways to do service works virtually.

Our Lady of Good Counsel students performed several virtual acts of charity that were highlighted in a video posted May 1 on the school’s YouTube channel.

Their works included donating more than $3,000 worth of food to their parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference for distribution to the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic; preparing food and sandwiches to benefit the Cathedral Kitchen, an outreach facility in Camden, and preparing 50 care packages containing face masks, hand sanitizers and snacks for essential personnel who are caring for others during the pandemic. The video also noted the $700 the students raised through their participation in the annual Penny Wars competition held during Catholic Schools Week in January to benefit the Animal Adoption Center in Lindenwold.

“It is an honor to work at a school that cares as much about helping other people as it does about academics,” said Alexandra Kehl, seventh-grade teacher and the student council moderator.

“The Diocesan Day of Service is a beautiful opportunity to have our students focus on doing good for others,” said Carla Chiarelli, principal, adding that the Day of Service gives students the opportunity to help others with whom they normally would not have contact.

But in light of the coronavirus restrictions and schools being closed, she commended the students and their families for the “overwhelming flood of acts of service” they participated in from their homes.

“The ability to care for others without being asked during this time shows their spiritual and Christian foundations coming to life,” she said.