The Mercy chapter of the Italian National Honor Society, Società Onoraria Italica, Caterina di Siena, must complete a service project each year. In the past, students have volunteered at the Saint Sebastian Church Feast as ticket vendors, in the fried dough booth, and helping with food sales.
This year, the students wanted to do something different because many members of the Middletown community have a need and rely on the help of Saint Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen for meals. The society wanted to offer them something that they do not ordinarily get served, lasagna! The students wanted to extend the cultural experience beyond the classroom. Lasagna was a good option and also a popular meal choice amongst Italians.
With the help of the INHS officers, members of the Italian classes and even students that do not take Italian, volunteers signed up and a total of 24 volunteers prepared the 35 trays of lasagna. Under the guidance of society moderator, Italian teacher and excellent cook Ms. Daniela Aparo, the group worked to receive donations and supplies for the event. Some students donated grated cheese, ricotta, mozzarella and sauce. With the funds collected, Ms. Aparo shopped and bought 30 lbs. of meatballs, 40 lbs. of lasagna sheets, 50 lbs. of ricotta, 24 jars of sauce, 20 lbs. of mozzarella, tablecloths, pans, lids, and other supplies needed all through the generous donations provided by the Mercy High School community. A total of $520 was collected — even more than was needed — and the unused remainder ($113.99) was issued in a check to Saint Vincent de Paul. “Although it took lots of planning and calculating of product needed per tray, I would organize this event again in a heartbeat and am looking forward to doing this again,” stated Ms. Aparo. Madilyn Carbone ’23 echoed Ms. Aparo’s thoughts, “I had so much fun doing this, I hope we do it again next year!” The sister team of Catherine and Fiona Fay who made 4 of the 35 trays agreed, too, “We are willing to make more of them!”
Mercy students are required to complete service hours each year with a minimum of 100 hours by graduation. Last year the students completed 10,743 hours of community service with local agencies making a remarkable economic impact of $333,570. Sophomore Ava Giansiracusa appreciated that she was making a difference, saying, “I feel good knowing people are going to enjoy having lasagna for a meal.” Classmate Mia Pugliares added, “I am happy to have helped make the lasagna. I am also willing to serve meals at Saint Vincent de Paul if they need help!”
Ms. Aparo summed it up best, “I love what I do! My job is so rewarding, and not just the teaching part of it. Through much planning, calculating, seeking donations, and bringing ideas to fruition, my Italian National Honor Society organized an outstanding lasagna making event to feed the less fortunate. I know the guests at St. Vincent enjoyed an amazing lasagna lunch made with love by the Mercy High students.”
By Marie C. Kalita