‘Post’ readers share how they are caring for God’s creation

EDITOR’S NOTE: As publication of Pope Francis encyclical on the environment neared, we asked readers of The Catholic Post to share examples of how they are caring for creation. Here is a sample of what we heard.

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ST. MARK STUDENTS PICK UP AREA TRASH

Every Monday, dozens of students from St. Mark School in Peoria take an hour away from indoor classes for an outdoor project to keep their neighborhood beautiful.

These are S.M.A.R.T. Kids — as in St. Mark’s Against Random Trash. A group is pictured above.

Pat Nedza, a school secretary who coordinates the program, told The Catholic Post that S.M.A.R.T. Kids has been in place for eight years and has earned several awards.

Between 45 to 50 students in grades three to eight take part, wearing t-shirts and jeans as they pick up trash in a five-block radius. In early years, they would return with up to 100 pounds of trash. Now, perhaps because of their example, it’s down to about 15 pounds.

The students recycle what they can, and money earned from recyclable materials goes toward a pizza party mid-year and an ice cream party at year’s end.

Nedza challenged other Catholic schools in the diocese to try out the program, and invited calls to St. Mark at (309) 676-7131.

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RAIN GARDEN IN CHAMPAIGN YARD

CHAMPAIGN — A rain garden in the side yard of Mary and Doug Eppich not only preserves water, it helps neighbors.

The members of St. Matthew Parish built the garden 10 years ago.

“The rain that hits our roof never runs off of our property to cause flooding down the hill,” they explained. Instead, it collects in gutters that drain into a 20′-x-20′ dish dug into the slope of the yard.

“We prepared the soil in the dish by tilling in plenty of sphagnum moss, so the rain soaks into the ground within 24 hours (no standing water),” continued the Eppiches. They then planted native plants suited for wet and dry conditions.

“The many flowers attract bees and other insects, which, in turn, attract finches, robins, doves, and other birds in abundance,” the wrote. An occasional fox or possum has also been spotted.

According to the Eppiches, St. Matthew parishioners also helped design and engineer a rain garden at Scott Park.

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“I EVEN RECYCLE JESUS”

MOLINE — Patti Jo Brown has always lived her life on the wisdom of “waste not, want not.”

“I was born way before recycling was the ‘in thing’ to do,” she told The Catholic Post, “however I’ve been living it for the last 60 years.” The owner of a costume shop for three decades explained how she has never bought a plastic bag or hanger for her business, how leftover food in her home finds its way into another dish rather than the garbage, and how everything from leftover water to gift bags are re-used.

Pope Francis would applaud it all, but perhaps particularly the closing line of the email from Brown, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Coal Valley who volunteers at the food pantry and Women’s Choice Center.

“I even recycle Jesus,” she wrote. “I use him over and over, abuse him, and re-use him again and again — and he always comes back to me stronger than ever.”

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