Beach Party Benefit Assists Orphanage in India

An orphanage in India will soon have clean water, thanks to the efforts of a school in Connecticut. Naomi Macari, a math teacher at St. Lawrence School in Shelton, has been sponsoring a child in India through CNEWA since 2004. Nikhila, age 14, is a resident at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Brahmakulam and attends St. Theresa School.

In April, Mrs. Macari was leafing through literature she had received from CNEWA and noticed an appeal for funds for a waste water treatment system for an orphanage whose residents had become ill due to contaminated water. She was shocked to read the name of the facility … St. Joseph’s. It was no longer an anonymous appeal, it was Nikhila’s home.

Mrs. Macari sprang into action and, with the permission of Mary O’Connor, St. Lawrence’s principal, launched a series of fun activities with a beach theme for a May fund-raiser. The school had three weeks to prepare for their “beach party.” All the classes pitched in: making posters, soliciting prizes from local businesses, tallying the donations and designing games of skill for the “beach party.” The younger students made thank-you cards. The response was “overwhelming,” Mrs. Macari reported, with the home-school association, clergy and the community all caught up in the excitement.

It was a hectic couple of weeks for Mrs. Macari, who teaches math to sixth and seventh graders, algebra to select eighth graders and is the computer teacher for the entire school. But gradually, with the support of Ms. O’Connor, everything fell into place. Mrs. Macari’s enthusiasm was catching and a fifth-grade teacher, Lenore Daninhirsch, collected seashells from a beach near her home for a “seashell quest.” Students had to guess the number of shells in a large jar.

The activities – and fun – multiplied. Other contests were planned, such as designing a beach hat and a beach towel and a schoolwide indoor-outdoor scavenger hunt. The events required an entry fee and maps for the hunt were for sale. The week culminated in a Boardwalk on the Beach Party for family and friends, scheduled for 19 May, Nikhila’s birthday.

It was a game-filled – and money-raising – evening. Activities included ring toss, bowling (using empty water bottles and a golf ball), ring toss (with filled water bottles) horse racing, shoot a basket and other games of skill. The people paid to play and won prizes donated by local merchants. There were dancing and food in the gym, with an eighth-grader, Conor Nolan, making his debut as a DJ using the sound system he had just purchased from a neighbor.

Mrs. Macari declared the week a success. At the same time, CNEWA had received a check for the same project from a donor who wished to remain anonymous. The combined funds assured the installation of the clean-water system for the orphanage, which cares for 171 children. The treated waste water will be recycled and used for irrigation.

Asked what was the biggest challenge she encountered during the fund-raiser, Mrs. Macari responded quickly, “Finding Brahmakulam on the map. We wanted everyone to know where the orphanage is.” The directions were simple: Find the state of Kerala in southwest India. Locate a major city, Trichur; find Guruvayur and below it is Brahmakulam.

In her announcement about the fund-raiser, Ms. O’Connor, the principal, wrote: “St. Lawrence School is dedicated to serving God and community. Hopefully, the excitement from this challenge will reinforce the joy that we receive from helping others in need.”

Mrs. Macari and her husband, Mike, who live in Trumbull, are members of St. Catherine of Siena parish. They are the parents of two grown children, Elizabeth and Michael. In her birthday letter to Nikhila, Mrs. Macari mentioned the fund-raiser her school was planning. The next letter, complete with photographs, will highlight the fun and games.

“The students,” Mrs. Macari said, “not only enjoyed the activities, they witnessed their faith in action. I can’t wait to share the good news with the children in India.”

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