Helping kids deal with disasters on the news; Pacelli students aid hurricane relief with Jeans for Jesus

Published 7:51 am Friday, October 20, 2017

By Jean McDermott

President/elementary principal, Pacelli Catholic Schools

The past few months have seen countless natural disasters throughout the country and the world impacting the lives of many families; hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires.  How do we help our children cope with these events that they see on the news or learn about at school?

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Young children often mix up real and pretend. They might not know quite what happened in the disaster, but they will know that people around them are upset or sad. When preschool children see the news on TV, they may not know that the news often shows the same event again and again. They may think the scary event keeps taking place. School-age children can understand more about the disaster than preschool children can. They may want to hear about what happened from trusted adults and receive comfort. Children this age can feel personally affected by news stories. Teens aged 12- 17 will understand the event much better than younger children. They may want to share their feelings and thoughts about issues raised by the disaster.

How can we help our children, at home and at school, cope as they view these events in the media? We can find the positive and take action! Help children find the good things within the tragedy.

For example, when people help each other, take heroic action, and donate medicine and food to survivors, we see the positive impact and strength of humankind. We can show our children how the world organizes to work together, for example, through the International Red Cross or the United Nations Relief Fund. We teach children about the science used to predict, stop and deal with natural disasters.
You make a family emergency plan, so your kids know your family is ready, and they know what to do.
Help your child find ways to show their care for survivors of disaster, especially other children.

Pacelli students are given the opportunity to show their care for survivors of disasters. Staff and students pray daily for those impacted by disaster. Intentions for survivors and victims our offered up at weekly Mass. Every month, Pacelli students in kindergarten through grade 12 have a special opportunity to make a difference in their world, not just in their school, but globally.

“Jeans for Jesus” is observed on the last Thursday of every month. On this day, students may choose to be out of uniform and wear “Jeans for Jesus.”  In order to participate students are encouraged to do chores around the house to earn money or put aside some of their allowance and bring in a donation for a different cause each month. In September, students raised almost $400 to help those who have lost so much in the hurricanes. Next week, for the month of October, students are raising money to help those impacted by the earthquakes in Mexico City.  We use this opportunity for our children to show their care for survivors of disaster.

We are reminded in Matthew 25:40, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

If you are interested in learning more about Pacelli Catholic Schools visit our website at, email, or call 507-437-3278.