North Philadelphia school keeps community care mission alive during COVID-19 crisis

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- COVID-19 may have temporarily shut down St. James School, but it could never stop them from carrying out their mission.

At this free-tuition middle school, fulfilling the lives of North Philadelphia children typically revolves around the classroom. For 11 months out of the year, they educate and provide meals to students who lack such opportunities.

The compassionate institution, which fully formed in 2011, was forced to keep kids away earlier this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, when one door closes, another one opens.

St. James moved its staff to the sidewalk, where they effort a feeding program seven days per week. It's grown to feed up to 200 people per day. Not only do they serve the families of enrolled students, but they have branched out to other neighbors in the community as well.

Although it may look different from the classroom setting, this switch allows them to carry out their focus on "total care" for each individual. In addition to distributing food and personal care products for free, they also check up on neighbors and pray social-distance style.

Six members of the staff at St. James School live on campus and keep this operation alive. They scope out needs of the community and find creative angles to fill the gaps. Last week, they distributed Google Chromebooks to students, allowing remote learning to continue on the internet.

St. James relies on donations from the community to support their cause. They currently have 15 churches working alongside individuals in the neighborhood to stock their food pantry.

To learn more about the community resources provided by St. James School and its church, visit their website.

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