The Vincentian Marian Youth group of St. Anthony Catholic church in Anchorage, Alaska has won the Outstanding Youth Group in Philanthropy Award for the state of Alaska.  The  group  won this award based on their demonstration of exceptional achievement in philanthropic activities in their community and their support of nonprofit agencies.

They were nominated for the annual Food Fasts that raise money for Thanksgiving Baskets for the needy, given out at Mountain View Boys and Girls Club, that raise money for Catholic Relief Services for needs in over 100 countries in the world, their projects on behalf of eliminating malaria in Africa, stocking the shelves of Catholic Social Services’ St. Francis House, providing activities that serve the local community such as providing a safe Halloween Carnival for children, Christmas Caroling at full care and assisted care facilities at Christmas and their constant enthusiasm to help out.  They will be featured in their November issue of the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Anchor.

Special thanks to Sr. Frances Vista DC for sending notice of this award.

 Text of nomination presentation

I would like to nominate the St. Anthony Vincent/Marian Youth Group (VMY-FIAT Youth Group) for the Outstanding Youth Group in Philanthropy Award.

The VMY-FIAT Youth Group of St. Anthony Catholic Church is an active, dedicated group of young people, from 6th to 12th grade who participate in activities that serve the local and global communities.  Below is the list of the annual activities in which they participate, as well as the “special” projects they implement during the school year.

1.  Halloween Carnival:  Our VMY-FIAT Youth Group annually provide safe Halloween activities and trick or treating for the children of the Mountain View area in our church basement.

2.   30 Hour Food Fast for Thanksgiving Baskets:  Our VMY-FIAT Youth Group annually hold a 30 hr. food fast on the weekend before Thanksgiving in order to raise money to buy the food items to complete the Thanksgiving baskets given out at the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club to those who need help to provide a Thanksgiving dinner.  They begin their fast at the 5:30 pm mass on Saturday and fast through the 6 pm mass on Sunday, ending it by inviting the community to attend a simple (meatless and homemade) meal with them in the basement of the church.  They speak at all the masses to explain why they are fasting and that they will be taking donations after every mass to help buy the food items for the Thanksgiving baskets.  During the 30 hours they spend at the church, they participate in activities that help them become more aware of why people, even hard working people, live below the poverty level.  On Sunday, we are contacted by the director of the Thanksgiving Basket program at Mountain View Boys and Girls Club, who gives us a list of what is needed to complete the Thanksgiving Baskets.  Once we have the list, we divide up into groups and go to Costco, Safeway and Red Apple to purchase the food items.  We can be witnessed every Sunday before Thanksgiving gathering and buying pick-up truck loads of corn, stuffing, peas, gravy mix, etc. and hauling them to the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club to unload and stack in their large room where they are handed out prior to Thanksgiving.  We raise close to and sometime exceed $2000.

3.  Annual Christmas Caroling at Providence Horizon House, Providence Extended Care and at Prestige Care facilities in December.

4.  March 30 hour Food Fast:  Similar to the November 30 hour food fast, the VMY-FIAT Youth Group holds a 30 hour food fast during Lent to raise funds for Catholic Relief Services (CRS).  CRS is the arm of the United States Catholic Council of Bishops and serves only in foreign countries.  It addresses programs of charity, development and solidarity in over 100 countries of the world.  It serves all needs and all religions and those who are not religious. During the 30 hours, youth speak at all masses and explain why they are fasting, taking donations after every mass.  They participate in activities that make them aware of situations of desperate need in areas such as Haiti, Somalia, Afghanistan, and try to make them understand needs such as food insecurity, access to clean water, HIV-AIDS in Africa and creating relationship with youth from the West Bank, Afghanistan, and our own Global Solidarity Partnership with Cotabato, Mindanao in the Philippines.  We end our 30 hours of fasting by inviting the community to a meal prepared by the youth, using recipes from Africa, Asia, Latin American, etc.  They are simple, meatless meals and by doing this, we stay in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the world even in ending our fast.  We raise close to and sometimes exceed $2000 which is donated to CRS and has been designated to Haiti, the Philippines, victims of flooding in Pakistan, etc.

5.  Every year, our VMY-FIAT Youth Group implement a project to address selected interests in our local community.  Our youth belong to a program sponsored by St. John’s School of Theology in Minnesota.  It is the Youth in Theology and Ministry program at St. John’s.  It is a two year commitment.  Each summer, selected youth from St. Anthony’s spend two weeks at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN where they take theology classes in the morning, service projects in the afternoon and different prayer experiences in the evening (including visiting and engaging with Islam at their mosque in the twin cities and St. Cloud).  Upon return to their parishes, their ministry is to discern a need in their community/world and implement a project that will address this need (teaching them leadership skills).  We have participated in this program since 2006 and here are the projects which they have implemented:

a.  Senior Prom for Senior Citizens (at St. Anthony’s in May of 2007 – music provided by the Romig Middle School Jazz Band , leader:  Anna Lolesio)

b.  Multicultural Night (display of culture’s art, crafts, food, music, dance, etc. at St. Anthony’s – Pacific Islanders, German, Italian, Alaskan Native, Filipino, American, etc., Leaders:  Troy Lolesio, Stephen Braudis – 2008)

c.  Mass and Hunger Banquet for Teens (at St. Anthony’s in May of 2009, leaders:  Gino Villanueva and David Braudis)

d.  Bite Back Malaria:  Series of activities, potlucks, educational workshops that raised $1600. to buy mosquito nets for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for Kenya – leaders:  Syn Ching Lim and Kelly Braudis – 2010)

e.  Operation C.A.N.:  facing an increase in the homelessness and need for food at the food banks in Anchorage, the leaders of this project decided to try to increase the community’s awareness of the need for help in the Anchorage community and patterned their project after a school activity “bean-afit” for Bean’s Café and applied it to increasing the amount of goods donated to Catholic Social Services Food Bank at St. Francis House.  At the end of their project, from November 2010 to April 10, 2011, they turned over 7350 pounds of food to St. Francis House.  (Leaders:  Xavier Cho and Marianne Estrella – 2011)

f.  Currently our leaders:  Lario Villanueva, Isabel Yamat and Heather Rahm are discerning the need and will be selecting their project for the year on Oct. 18.

Organizations that have benefited from our VMY-FIAT Youth Group’s efforts:

Mountain View Area (Boys and Girls Club)

St. Francis House and the local Anchorage community

CRS (Catholic Relief Services) – Africa, Philippines, Pakistan, West Bank, Afghanistan

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