Raise your glass to Catholic Education at the Kerry Wood Nature Center on May 18 (Wednesday)

The CSS Morning Star Program Elevates Women Sustainably

Catholic Social Services press release

Teachers at the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division raise funds to support vulnerable women served by Catholic Social Services’ Morning Star program.

“It’s just something that is very important to us, that we teach our children to help those less fortunate and to be part of a community and a faith-filled community.” Melissa Meyer, teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas School.

Last winter, a class at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Red Deer held a drive for over 100 clothing accessories for Morning Star. This year, the entire school division is participating. Fundraising began on May 9 and will continue until the end of the school year.

The Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division hosted a lunch day where teachers and students were able to order lunch from local restaurants, Millennium Cafe and Bo’s Bar & Stage, with a portion of the proceeds going to Morning Star. This week (May 9-13), teachers are participating by donating $20 to dress up for theme days. Themes include Gear up for a good cause, Jeans for justice, Sweathog Day, Just Cause Jeans and High School Throwback, where teachers and staff can wear jeans and sportswear to school. Another planned initiative includes a 50/50 draw on May 20.

“Support means a lot and there is something that really touches us in the fact that young people also want to be involved in their community and help build their community even from a young age. It means a lot to us.” Jill Lanz, Services Coordinator at Morning Star.

Morning Star opened in downtown Red Deer in 2019, following a viability analysis that identified significant gaps in the community for homeless women, drug addicts and other self-identified barriers. Morning Star is the only program aimed exclusively at women, an important feature for those who have been victims of abuse and/or human trafficking.

The program aims to uplift women in a sustainable way through both outreach and walk-in services. The Morning Star Welcome Center provides a safe place for women to access showers and laundry services, snacks, clothing, toiletries, and friendship and support from staff. Morning Star served 168 women last year and currently receives 140-260 visits per month.

“Part of our job is to carry hope for our women until they can carry it themselves,” Lanz describes her role to Morning Star.

Morning Star is funded entirely by donations to Sign of Hope, the charitable fundraising arm of Catholic Social Services. The program costs $250,000 a year to operate. Those interested can make donations at (LINK)

Involvement of local filmmakers

A video by local Red Deer filmmaker Corey Gomez was produced to support the fundraising efforts of the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division. Gomez has been on projects such as Billy the Kid, ATCO, the Government of Alberta, and a television show produced by Ron Howard.

About CSS:

For 60 years, Catholic Social Services has been helping the most vulnerable. Today, CSS works in three priority areas: serving newcomers to Canada, serving people with disabilities, and serving individuals, children and families. Each year, more than 21,000 Albertans in 12 central Alberta communities are uplifted and empowered through CSS.

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