St. Norbert College class bags lunches for homeless shelter

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - On Thursday St. Norbert College students are spending part of their day in a homeless shelter instead of the classroom. It’s all part of a service project the students requested to do themselves, even using their own money to make it happen.

The students are part of Father James Neilson’s “Sacred Art and Architecture” class, and St. John the Evangelical Homeless Shelter was a site they visited during the class.

"One of the site visits that we had to this class was the homeless shelter and as we were walking around we were having conversations and we thought why can't we do something for this? Why can't we take it beyond just a visit and do something for that community?" said Matthew Matuszak, a senior at St. Norbert College.

"When they heard what was going on here, they all wanted to take part they all wanted to do a little something and we decided let's do something as a group, lets blend this into the class," said Father James Neilson, Professor of Art at St. Norbert College.

The students donated money to make 80 bagged lunches for the shelter, they’re also providing the shelter with dozens of backpacks and hoodies, something residents need at the shelter.

Father Nielson says it took the 34 students a few weeks to gather the money they needed, pack lunches and collect backpacks and hoodies. Even though the philanthropic part of the project is over, there is also an academic component. The students will go back into the classroom and write a paper reflecting on their experience.

"I think it makes us more engaged and aware citizens of the communities that we're going to be in, that we're going to serve, that we're going to work in, and for me personally it allows me to get outside the classroom, get outside those four walls and really get a hands on experience with the learning that I'm doing," said Matuszak.

Laurie Reinen with St. John’s Homeless Shelter says the donation will help provide encouragement to the residents of the shelter.

“It's just the encouragement in your soul, even if you're going through something really difficult, it's that one more nugget of sunshine or happiness, it does help," said Reinen.

“This is a class that recognize what is most sacred in the world is human dignity and if we can help attend to that then we all feel like we've succeeded increasing our awareness of that which is truly sacred in the world,” said Father Neilson.

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