Published in the April 12 – April 25, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Trinity Chester

Trinity Chester

St. Joseph’s Table is a service project that gives middle schoolers a chance to give back and learn leadership skills by organizing a produce giveaway for local people in need. The third annual St. Joseph’s Table Produce Giveaway took place at St. Catherine Catholic Church March 24.

The tradition of St. Joseph’s Table dates back to the year 1268. There was a severe drought in Sicily and crops failed. The Sicilians asked St. Joseph to intercede. The drought ended and there was a bountiful harvest. In honor of their patron saint, the Sicilians shared the bounty with the poor and set up altars with symbolic objects on St. Joseph’s feast day, March 19. Two years ago, as a sixth-grader at St. Catherine’s School, I read about the tradition of the St. Joseph’s Table. I thought about how it could be reinterpreted for our modern world without sacrificing tradition. Making fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to low-income families and seniors is a real need in our community.
I wanted to create an event that would address this need. I have always loved the sense of fulfillment that comes from helping others. I also wanted other middle schoolers to have the opportunity to experience that as well. In November 2014, with the support of St. Catherine Church and the Italian Catholic Federation, we began planning the giveaway followed by a hot meal.

In three years, we’ve served nearly 200 families and received donations from an average of 20 sponsors each year. We have contacted sponsors, written letters, designed flyers, and given up our free time in order to make this event happen.

“It is inspiring to see a group of young people working so hard to help those in need,” said Michelle Lieberman of local community-supported agriculture One Acre Farm, one of our sponsors. The middle schoolers might be the ones who organize the event, but we receive incredible support and encouragement from our parents, St. Catherine Church and the Italian Catholic Federation.

“I love seeing the kids gain confidence,” said Rose Pucan-Meagor, director of Family Faith Formation at St. Catherine Church.

Next year, I’ll be handing the reins over to Junior Salas and Brielle Delisle, seventh-graders who were co-leaders this year.

Sixth-grader Grace Gallego said, “I learned about the different needs in the community.” She plans to be part of the core team next year.

I’m glad there is a new generation of middle schoolers who will carry this event into 2018 and beyond.

Trinity Chester is an eighth-grader who is home schooled. She wrote this for Morgan Hill Life.