Teachers and students across the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division are raising funds to support the vulnerable women served by the Morning Star program, run by Catholic Social Services.
“It’s just something that is very important to us, that we teach our children about helping less fortunate and being a part of a… faith-filled community,” said Melissa Meyer, teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas School.
Morning Star has operated in downtown Red Deer since 2019 to help women experiencing homelessness, addiction, and other barriers. It’s the only CSS program exclusively serving women through both outreach and drop-in services, offering a safe place to access showers and laundry services, snacks, clothing, toiletries and the support of staff.
Last winter, a class at St. Thomas Aquinas school in Red Deer collected over 100 clothing accessories for Morning Star. This year, the entire school division is participating.
Fundraising will continue through to the end of the school year. Lunch days were held where faculty and pupils ordered from local restaurants, with some proceeds donated to Morning Star. Faculty are also donating $20 to dress down for various theme days held at schools. Another planned initiative is a 50/50 draw on May 20.
As well, a video by a local Red Deer filmmaker Corey Gomez was produced to support the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division fundraising efforts.
“There’s something that really touches our hearts about the youth… wanting to get involved in their community,” said Jill Lanz, service co-ordinator at Morning Star.
The program served 168 women last year and receives 140-260 monthly visits. It’s funded through Catholic Social Services’ charitable fundraising arm, costing $250,000 annually to operate.
For 60 years, Catholic Social Services has been working in three priority areas: serving newcomers to Canada, serving individuals with disabilities, and serving individuals, children, and families. More than 21,000 people in 12 central Alberta communities benefit annually.