By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Protective masks — it’s a cliché, but during the COVID-19 pandemic they’ve become a new normal, especially for the most vulnerable. One group of Dallas Catholic school students, though, hope through art they can help spread a little Christmas joy and hope — all while helping keep young patients safe.
Under the direction of art teacher Rosemary Fougerousse, students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School initially designed masks for the school’s Chirstmas Spirit Week. Then they learned of the opportunity to decorate children’s protective masks to be delivered Dec. 18 to the ARCH (At Risk Children) Center at Children’s Health.
“Offering a little comfort and cheer for those less fortunate, seemed to inspire the students to expand on their original designs, adding holiday story themes and accessories sewn onto the masks, such as jingle bells, angel feathers, Santa beards and Rudolph noses,” Fougerousse said. “Always innovators, I constantly tell the students their ideas amaze me, especially when asked to help out other children, they rally and work harder than ever. I am very proud, but also grateful that their spiritual development even at this young age, is so evident.”
As fourth-grader Sara Gonzalez put the finishing touches on her mask, decorated with famous holiday grump, “The Grinch,” she said she hopes it can bring a little joy to one of the clinic’s patients.
“I feel like if I can give them something I’ve made, it may help make them happy,” she said. “Knowing that I put a smile on their faces would put a smile on my face, too.”
Her classmate Juliannah Ibarra decorated a mask with St. Gabriel carrying his trumpet because it “shares the Good News.”
“I think it will make the children feel better,” she said. “Because he is proclaiming that Jesus is born.”
In all, OLPH students in grades fourth through eighth decorated around 50 masks to donate.
OLPH Principal Maria Claudia Searle said the project embodied the spirit of the season and was a true reflection of her students’ faith.
“Our community has shown time and again that vast resources are not a requirement when called to express genuine care and willingness to help others,” Searle said. “Instead, it is listening to the Holy Spirit and its voice of love and hope, that moves us to action beyond our own needs and allows us to be of service to others.”
The OLPH principal said her wish is that the students continue to act on opportunities, big or small, to make a positive difference through their commitment and efforts as often as possible and for the rest of their lives.
“None of us are happy to have to wear masks, but if we put the an angel or something festive on those masks, it may help bring a smile to someone’s face,” Searle said. “And that’s what our students have done.”