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Murrysville school program sets stage for lifelong generosity

Natalie Frydryck thought long and hard about what gift to get for a special boy. But having never met the toddler, Frydryck wandered among the toy shelves at local stores to see what she could find.

On Christmas morning, a little boy somewhere in the region will unwrap a Thomas the Train toy and several items of clothing, picked out just for him by the Monroeville teen.

"The main thing for Christmas is giving back," said Frydryck, 13, an eighth-grader at Mother of Sorrows School in Murrysville. "It feels good to give."

And give they did at Mother of Sorrows this holiday season.

Throughout the past month, the 290 students at the school brought in toys, clothes and toiletries, made gifts and wrote letters to local senior citizens as part of a Christmas outreach program. Students in the seventh and eighth grades bought gifts for local children of families that are struggling this holiday. Students in each classroom brought in toiletry items to donate to Intersection, a social service organization in McKeesport, and made Christmas cards, puzzles and other gifts for residents in the Golden Living Center in Murrysville.

The generosity of Mother of Sorrows School students impressed principal Joe Rice.

Rice said the children donated enough toiletries to send 60 bags to Intersection and 35 different gifts for children.

"It's why I'm in education," Rice said. "It's to see kids learning to do these things. More and more in society, they're getting the message that it's good to give. I hope they'll want to do it more and more as they get older."

Eighth-grader Katie Kimmich bought a Lego block set for an 8-year-old boy this Christmas. She included a note for the boy in her gift so he knew someone was thinking of him.

"We have so much that they don't, and it's a nice opportunity to give to others," said Kimmich, 13, of Export. "It's just a great feeling to know that you've made someone's Christmas better."

That feeling is one of the goals of the giving project, Rice said.

"One of the coolest things is when they've completed the project, they feel empowered," Rice said. "They love the fact that someone is going to have a nice Christmas because of them."

Noah Kinser, an eighth-grader on Student Council, said he was glad the council sponsored Intersection again this year. Many teens and children don't realize how little some people have, he said. It's great to see the school always so willing to serve others, he said.

"MOSS always is helping people out," said Kinser, 13, of Penn Township. "It teaches us respect for what we have and what others need."

There are a lot of lessons to be learned during the Christmas season, Rice said. He said he is amazed each year at how much his students are willing to reach out into the community.

The giving doesn't have to end when the students leave the school. Rice said he encourages his students to get involved with other volunteer organizations, including the Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church's Mother Theresa Outreach.

"We like to teach the kids that they can help," Rice said. "We hope they continue to do good deeds once they leave us. It's a lifelong lesson to give back to the community."

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