Bundles of Joy: Lions for Life Help Celebrate the Gift of Life

“Little feet make big imprints on our hearts,” read one of 30 adorable cards sent to expecting mothers at SouthWest Options for Women in Eden Prairie. The Providence Academy Lion’s For Life Club worked to give women with limited resources the opportunity to make these little feet more manageable.  On Sunday April 24,the club assembled ten care packages, each encasing three personalized cards, for mothers-to-be with the intention of relieving and exciting the women receiving their contents. 

Freshmen Rien Rose Lee and Melia Cmiel proudly show off their adorable creations and are excited to continue the tradition of the Lions for Life club in the years to come.

Cradled in each of the ten baskets were all the basics for a soon-to-be mom, from a pair of socks to a stuffed animal. Enthused club member Melia Cmiel, ‘25, recalled that assembling the contents and imagining the babies and moms that would be benefiting, especially the clothing, was the best thing she could have done on a Sunday afternoon. 

Cmiel noted, “I love to lend a helping hand in any way I can, whether it be making baskets, cards, or just being there and giving my support”! 

As cute as they can be, babies can also be quite a handful. First grade teacher Erin Lee, one of the event supervisors and mother of four attests that as a parent, raising a child, let alone a newborn, is no easy task. 

Lee said, “especially after my first, adjusting to a sleeping pattern was very demanding because the ability to sleep was a rare occurrence”. 

On top of early mornings, lack of love and support from families present another barrier to women at SouthWest Options for Women. This was why the event was so meaningful to the President of the Lions for Life club, Grace Wikenheiser ‘22.

Created by Rien Rose Lee ‘25, this charming card is an example of how the participants wanted to excite expecting mothers in anticipation of their newborns.

Wikenheiser reflected,  “while the supplies are a great help to the mothers, the support and love that they represent are what truly make a difference. These women need to know that they do not have to do this alone.” 

Cmiel also noted how exciting it was not only to put the baskets together with the “adorable” baby accessories, but to know her work was going to make an impact. 

“It’s important to me that we help and support even the smallest or youngest members of our community in any way that we can.”

Despite all of the challenges that come with being a mother, Lee firmly stated, “it’s like Christmas morning, every morning”! She noted that through all the long nights and early mornings, “you are able to get through it all because of the bond you form with your baby. A difficult task is no longer something you have to do, but something you get to do for your child.”

The true joy and excitement that comes with being a mother is something the Lions for Life club wanted to share with all the women at SouthWest Options through personalized cards. Three handmade cards, with a loving and encouraging message, were placed within each of the baskets the club put together. 

The Lions for Life club pulled out their cutest puns and brightest colored markers to design thirty handmade cards, in hopes to bring a lasting smile to another’s face.

Wikenheiser commented, “three was a somewhat random number, but I wanted to include multiple cards to express how much support these women have through the trying circumstances in which they find themselves.”

The following Monday, Wikenheiser brought the baby baskets to SouthWest Options for Women, concluding the final planned event for the Lions for Life club. This past year they displayed the American flags for the 9/11 memorial, participated in the National Day of Solidarity by remaining silent to call attention to those who have no voice, and hosted their Beard for Babies fundraiser, just to name a few, all speaking to the sanctity of life.

As her senior year comes to a close, along with her leadership in this club, Wikenheiser affirms, “I know that Lions for Life will continue making a difference long after the current members have left Providence Academy”.

Called to Serve: Lower School Hosts Annual Service Day

Lent is not just a time of prayer and fasting, but also action. These three pillars of Lent mark a penitential season, and give Christians a chance to prepare for Easter.  As a kickstart to Lent and a means to show students, hands-on, what this third pillar of lent can involve beyond monetary gifts, Providence Academy hosted its annual Lower School Service Day on Saturday, March 5.

Lower School Director Mrs. Nancy Galgano played a key role in organizing, promoting, and running the event, consisting of not just one, but seven service projects. She noted, “the best way for the kids to learn how to serve others as Christ did is to do something.” Since its inception over ten years ago, this motive has made Service Day what it is today. 

Students and their families filled over 100 lunch boxes with snacks, beverages, personal care items, and a handmade card to show their appreciation for healthcare workers.

Galgano, along with Lower School parents, planned a day of family fun and learning that brought parents alongside students and teachers to contribute to creative outreach initiatives. 

National Honors Society members, Skylar Bartz, ’23, and Emma Boeing, ’22, assisted families in assembling over 150 sandwiches with smiles on their faces.

Families were asked to go to each of the seven stations, all benefiting different organizations and causes. At the Humane Society Station, tote bags were filled with dog food, treats, a toy, and a blanket. At another table, families decorated bags and filled them with snacks to later be sent to the Ronald McDonald House. To benefit Sharing and Caring Hands, over 150 Easter baskets were made, filled with coloring books, Easter eggs, candy, and other goodies. Families even filled lunch boxes with snacks, beverages, personal hygiene items, and a card to send to frontline workers in hospitals.

Nihal Limgan, a first grader at Providence, reflected on his first year attending the event; “It was so much fun!” 

Limgan added, “Lent is a time to give to the people who are in need.” He especially enjoyed participating in the sandwich-making station with his family and friends. The table made over 150 turkey and cheese sandwiches that would be later handed out to the homeless in the Twin Cities.

Limhan and Galgano were not the only ones who mentioned the importance of almsgiving. Emma Boeing ‘22, was one of the many members of the National Honors Society who helped run the event. She was stationed at Limhan’s favorite spot and commented, “the determination of some of the kids to make the sandwiches and participate all by themselves really stood out to me.” 

Boeing later echoed Galgano, “it was amazing to see the parents, students, and siblings come together to help others for the day”. 

This Lower School Service Day was not just an opportunity for friends and family to come together, but a way to serve our brothers and sisters in need, just as Christ called us to do. From decorating Easter baskets to making turkey sandwiches, many individuals’ lives will be impacted through simple acts of kindness. The season of Lent is the perfect time to give back what you can, to grow in generosity and understanding that, even if financial means are limited, everyone can tithe with time and talent.

Knot Your Average Upper Schoolers: NHS Makes Tie Blankets for Children’s Hospital

What do upper schoolers do on typical Saturday mornings? Some will sleep in until the afternoon, while others will get up early to get a head start on the day. But all weekend plans have one thing in common: not going back to school. However, this was not the case for some Providence Academy students, on Saturday January 22, 2022, when a handful of upper schoolers in National Honors Society donated their mornings to make thirteen fleece tie blankets to donate to the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.  

Seniors Grace Counts, Anna Heaney, Amelia Hilberg, and Eleanor Young show off their adorable elephant and dinosaur tie blankets before they are folded and sent to the Childrens’ Hospital.

Being a member of the National Honors Society is more than just a title, it’s a privilege. Mrs. Paige Von Bank, a new college counselor at Providence, has seen nothing but astonishing things come from students who are members of NHS, from organizing the Trunk or Treat event to connecting with the school community through kind acts. As a college counselor, Von Bank interacts with many Upper School students, but always notes how, “There is a pride in giving back and doing good,” that sets NHS students apart. As a parent of Lower School students, Von Bank remarked that, “It is so cool to think of how the little ones look to these upperclassmen who are making a difference.”

Not only are these students making a difference, they are also enjoying the process of giving back.

Emma Boeing, ’22, Maggie Ludlow, ’23, Vanessa Le, ’23 and Adriana Azarian, ’22, work together to assemble their charming panda blanket with hopes that it will brighten another child’s day.

Kira Cmiel, a junior, recalled, “Even though it was a Saturday morning, everyone was super upbeat and full of energy. We got to spend time with friends and help others in the process. It didn’t seem like work.”

NHS gives opportunities to more people than the children snuggling with bright-colored blankets. Students in NHS also get the chance to be more involved in the community. Cmiel notes, “I like the built-in opportunities to help the community and get to know other students I normally wouldn’t interact with.”

These interactions within NHS is something Nina Von Dohlen, ‘22, also took notice of. “My favorite thing about NHS is our cohorts. Because we’re all randomly placed in cohorts, you are with different people from different grades or people you don’t usually talk to but you are all united with the same goal of helping the community.”

From dedicating early mornings for service projects to being role models for the younger kids, NHS members will continue to respond to the needs of their community, working to put smiles on the faces of others…and their own.

Made With Love

Markers, colored paper, stickers, and witty puns: these simple items may seem childish, but to those who receive a product created by them, they mean the world. The Letters of Love club, which is an extension of the international youth-led nonprofit organization of the same name, coordinated an event on Friday December 10, 2021, at which Providence Academy students combined their efforts and the aforementioned materials to craft cards that then reached the hands of 120 children at various hospitals later that week. 

Before and after school on the 10th, students sat in the Atrium, munching on doughnuts, jamming to Christmas music, and creating cheerful holiday cards. To some this may seem like just another social event, but to others, such as Quincy Wiederholt ‘25, it was a way to put more goodness into the world.  

She notes that Letters of Love is an important club at PA, “because it does things that I may never have thought to do or been able to do if it weren’t for the club.” Wiederholt goes on to say, “Though it is very simple, it is still an act of kindness that brings happiness.”

This happiness was the goal of PA’s Letters of Love Club. Letters of Love is an organization where students, whether they are a club member or not, can come together to make cards for those enduring an impactful change in their life. 

Spanish teacher Señora Ramirez was pleasantly surprised to receive so much support from her students when she was at home, recovering from her procedures. 

Grace Wikenheiser ‘22, President of Letters of Love, commented, “There are two aspects of running this club that I absolutely love: seeing and hearing the joy that the cards we make bring to others who are going through so much, and seeing members of the PA community take time out of their day to come together, laughing and smiling, to share their creativity with others.” 

This joy and creativity even touched the hearts of those in PA’s own community.  Many teachers, such as Spanish teacher Señora Ramirez, received support from the Letters of Love community. Ramirez underwent several difficult procedures throughout 2020 and 2021, but recounts how she was blown away by the cards she received.

 “I didn’t expect it at all,” Ramirez recalls. She was astonished by the cards she received, even from students she never taught. “This is what touched me the most.“

Letters of Love is a testimony to the fact that even just taking ten minutes out of your day can bring lasting joy to another. Kindness can come in all shapes and sizes, including an 8 x 11 sheet of paper.

B Positive: Donate Blood!

Why should you let a complete stranger stick a needle in your arm and draw one pint of your blood? Is it because afterwards you will be rewarded with sugary treats? Is it an excuse for missing class? Or is it for the benefit of others? Regardless of the motive, students and teachers continually strive to be one of the many people who get to participate in the biannual blood drive, hosted at Providence Academy every fall and spring. Held this year on November 17, the Blood Drive was a smashing success due its popularity amongst the students and faculty. 

Seniors Olivia Eck 22’ and Adriana Azarian 22’ are nothing but smiles after completing a six hour day of pure community service. Seeing their classmates and teachers so willing to donate blood added to their excitement.

The National Honors Society not only organized the whole event, but they provided the delicious snacks, thirst quenching beverages, handmade thank you cards, donors, and informative posters! One of the main coordinators, who personally put in 14 hours of service, was Olivia Eck 22’. She eagerly took on this role because she knew she had the skills needed to accomplish the task. Eck remarked, “Running the whole drive is all organization and being friendly, which is what I love to do!” Despite it being stressful and time consuming, she figured out every detail with a smile on her face. 

With that smile and can-do attitude, she was able to sign up 47 volunteers, 27 of which were able to donate one pint or more of blood. 

Dr. Biebighauser, an Upper School English and Latin teacher at Providence, noted that the extra time and dedication put into this event is something to be commended for. “I’m really proud and grateful for the time students spent to put this together and for those who donated.”

Gage Pietrini 22’ was a volunteer who, despite being nervous over the idea of losing blood, commented, “It’s a small prick, which you can barely feel. Why not do it? It helps save lives!” 

Gage Petrini 22’ is relieved after a successful donation and ecstatic to enjoy the delicious treats and receive a handmade thank you card, provided by his fellow students. 

Maria Counts 22’, one of the five double donors who gave two pints of blood, says she went through this slightly nerve-racking process because, “Someday that could be me or my family members who need a blood transfusion.”

Biebighauser added, “This is the most time-effective way to do charity work.” He highlighted that donors being able to scroll through their phones, take a breather from the draining day, and sip a coffee are just a few of the many perks of giving blood. 

Looking at the bigger picture, 40% of the nation’s blood and blood cell components come from donors. Blood donations are used for patients in need of surgery, cancer treatments, and transfusions for blood loss from traumatic injuries. How amazing is it that the human race invented a way to transfer blood from one healthy person to another who is in dire need? This concept is one that fascinates Biebighauser and many others. He remarked, “It’s an impressive operation how mankind has worked together to figure out how to restore blood and minimize harm to those donating.”

Not only is this event “worth the snacks” as Pietrini says, but it is one of the easiest ways to give back to the community. Eck certifies that it is “100% worth it!” All donors need to do is sit back, relax for a short period of time, then enjoy a doughnut and juice box.