St. Catherine's Student Learns Impact of Generosity Firsthand

Fiona Powers-Ozyurt
Fiona Powers-Ozyurt

According to St. Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus commissioned His twelve apostles, He told them, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” When Fiona Powers-Ozyurt, an 8th grade from St. Catherine of Siena School in Norwood, received $10 from a classmate at Christmas for the “Do Good Dollars” Program instituted by her religion teachers, Mr. Delaney and Sister Jeanne Morris, she added additional money from her family and made a trip to the Pauline Bookstore in Dedham. There she purchased pamphlets on grief and loss, prayer booklets, and books about suffering, acceptance and finding hope through prayer. Her goal: to donate the books she bought to the Veterans Hospital in Jamaica Plain so that veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Syndrome could have something to help them through their ordeal. The plight of military men with PTS was especially meaningful to Fiona because she personally knew people who suffered. When delivering the materials, she left a letter for Rev. Philip Salois, the VA Hospital Chaplain, explaining who she was, why she was donating the books, and expressing her hope that he would get back to her. After Christmas vacation, she found a letter on her desk from Father Salois letting her know exactly how her gifts made an impact on a young 25-year old veteran of the Iraq War. “I was absolutely astonished,” she remembers.  “When I read the letter, my whole perspective on the ‘Do Good Dollars’ Program changed.  I didn’t know what I could do as just one person. I had no idea that my donation would have such an effect. One man was helped and I feel many more people will be helped as well.”


In the “Do Good Dollars” Program, part of the Grade 8 religion curriculum at St Catherine’s, students were asked to bring in a $5 or $10 dollar bill to give to each other instead of traditional Christmas gifts. Students then donated their monetary gift to a charitable cause and wrote an essay about why they chose that particular charity. “We wanted to challenge our students to be creative about how they could use 5 loaves and two fishes to feed the multitudes,” said Mr. Delaney. “Students figured out how to stretch the money and after vacation, shared how they had spent the dollars. We were impressed at our students’ creativity as well as their eagerness to serve.”


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