Holy Spirit Catholic School students help provide clean water in Haiti

After tallying 2016 donations, Holy Spirit Catholic School collected $1,742, which provided life-saving water filters for 58 families in Haiti.

Holy Spirit Catholic School 7th graders show an example of one of the water filters they’re providing in Haiti.

As part of their preparation for the 2016 Christmas season, students at Holy Spirit Catholic School in Grand Rapids performed a corporal works of mercy and helped provide clean water for people in Haiti.

Holy Spirit students began fundraising efforts during Advent to provide water filters from the nonprofit organization Gift of Water. Holy Spirit’s 7th graders have a special role mobilizing their classmates throughout the whole school to bring in donations for the water filters. The 7th graders make presentations and posters to teach their peers about the importance of clean water and how difficult it can be to access it in Seguin, the mountain community where these filters will be distributed. People there walk long distances to collect water – water that’s contaminated.​

The students’ effort is part of Holy Spirit Parish’s longstanding support of its twin parish in Haiti, the Parish of Seguin. Parishioner Tim Ryan has been involved with Holy Spirit’s Haiti Committee since it began in 2000. He has since founded Haiti Needs You, an organization that helps other parishes start medical and dental teams in Haiti.

High school students who traveled with Haiti Needs You in 2016.

Haiti Needs You also takes high school students to Haiti on mission over spring break. The high school students, including students from Catholic Central and West Catholic, distribute the water filters bought by the Holy Spirit students, do water testing, and deliver rosaries.

The filters cost $30 and consist of two buckets that have physical filters for particle removal and chlorination for disinfection. Contaminated water is poured into the first bucket, and a chlorine tablet is added. After 30 minutes, the first bucket is then put on top of the second bucket, activating a valve that allows water to flow through the first bucket’s filter, into the second bucket’s filter, and into the bottom bucket. Finally, a smaller chlorine tablet is added to the second bucket, and the water is ready to drink once it has finished flowing into that second bucket. The water is dispensed from a tap at the bottom. Last Advent, Holy Spirit students raised $2,400 to buy 80 filters.

Holy Spirit Catholic School serves more than 270 students in preschool through 8th grade. Learn more here.