Vacation Bible School Students Inspire a Parish to Build Homes


COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (October 1, 2009) – Throughout the Caribbean and Latin America many families lack safe shelter. During hurricane season, vulnerable families fear their crumbling shacks may collapse on them. An ocean away, in the San Antonio metro area of Poth, Texas, Vacation Bible School students know the power of hurricanes, and prayer. They were inspired to complete chores to raise money to build homes for the poor through the humanitarian organization, Food For The Poor.

“The students learned how a single mother in Nicaragua might earn only $60 a year to support her family,” said Stacie Albert, Director of Vacation Bible School at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, in Poth. “We then compared the mother’s yearly salary to the price of a Nintendo DS, which most students in Vacation Bible School are fortunate to own.”

The approximately 120 Vacation Bible School participants sat in silence as they watched a Food For The Poor video document the harsh reality of life in Nicaragua, and the critical need for housing. Without sturdy housing or electricity, destitute families are constantly at the mercy of natural elements. At night, families huddle together in the stifling heat while insects and rodents scamper about. If it rains, the family will get wet, the dirt floor where they sleep will turn to mud.

“The students, age 4 through high school, decided they wanted to earn money by doing chores and jobs at home and for others, so a family in Nicaragua could receive a Food For The Poor house,” Albert said. “The parish’s response grew as updates in the bulletin showed how much money students were earning.”

The parish goal at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church was to build one house for $2,600. The overwhelming response from the parish built the house in Nicaragua, and raised enough to provide a destitute family in Haiti with a new house, latrine, rice and beans for one full year, a small-business project to help provide a source of income, school supplies for two children (including books and uniforms), clothing and shoes.

“I was amazed when I was done, and got the final count from our church bookkeeper,” Albert said. “We were only 25 cents short of the new house in Haiti. God provides!”

Albert said the project to build Food For The Poor houses has been a positive experience for the students and parish. Since 1982, Food For The Poor has built more than 55,000 homes.

“My goal as director was to involve the students in helping others and to show them how they can make a difference in someone else’s life,” Albert said. “ I also wanted the students to see how truly blessed they are, and to realize how we can all do God’s work – regardless of our age.”
“Some families wanted to make donations at Christmas time,” Albert said. “The response from parish members usually was ‘we feel so blessed we want to help others that are not so blessed.’”

Others moved to give at Christmas can find many ideas in Food For The Poor’s gift catalog. The Christmas catalog is filled with opportunities to shop for a worthy cause and change lives. All gifts are tax-deductible. To send a gift, the catalog can be accessed through the charity’s secure Web site at, or a printed version of the catalog is available by calling 800-427-9104.

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. We provide emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Public Relations Coordinator
(954) 427-2222 x 6054