Best Practices

Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

Engage your community with our best practices. And share yours!

Check out the creative ways your colleagues across the United States are engaging their dioceses and communities in CRS domestic programs. Then share your own best practices!

Erin Cordle, CRS Diocesan Director, Diocese of Columbus: Extending the reach of CRS Rice Bowl

The CRS Rice Bowl collection bowls are a wonderful tool to use during the Lenten season. A youth group at St. Michael Catholic Church (Diocese of Columbus) found a great new use for the bowls. They use them at Halloween on “beggars’ night.” Instead of going house to house asking for candy (the traditional treat), they ask for donations to CRS hunger programs. These kids are thinking outside of the box with the CRS Rice Bowl little collection box.


Caring about hunger—It’s in the bag

The CRS Food Fast program has been popular in the Lancaster, Ohio, area for years. The youth at St. Mark Catholic Church, Diocese of Columbus, share their concern about hunger with a local food collection effort during their Food Fast retreat. On Friday night, they distribute grocery bags and fliers about their weekend retreat, and request donations of groceries for the parish’s food pantry. Filled bags are then picked up on Saturday and stacked around the altar for the Saturday evening Mass. The food is blessed and the students are commissioned to continue their work serving those in need.



Building global solidarity one brick at a time

Students at Sacred Heart Elementary School, New Philadelphia, Ohio—Diocese of Columbus, have learned enough about disasters and rebuilding efforts to want to help those affected by disaster. The student council took on a long-term “Build-A-House” project to raise $2,500 to build a home for a family affected by a disaster overseas. “This was quite a lofty goal for a modest school of families of modest means, so we knew it would take some time,” Principal Scott Power says. As a visual reminder of the project, for each $100 raised, a new brick was added to a house being “built” on the landing of the school stairway. The final brick was added after $2,500 was collected.

Except for the proceeds from a couple of bake sales, students donated their own money to the “Build-a-House” projects. Instead of buying treats after lunch, they stop in the office to donate their change. Parents and staff also donated to the project. One fifth-grader dropped in his entire allowance for the month. When the principal asked him if he was sure he wanted to donate so much, he responded that the poor needed it more than he did. These students are a great example of Christ’s love in action.


Putting our global solidarity on display

Mrs. Mary Perez is a religion teacher at St. Anne School, a small pre-K–8 school near the University of Memphis. Many students receive free or reduced-price lunches and scholarships.

The school’s fifth- and sixth-graders worked with the second-grade religion class to create a CRS Rice Bowl exhibit, which they presented to the school and the parish.


Serve rather than be served

To celebrate the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Bicentennial Season of Service, the Community Outreach Program, or COP, turned the table to serve rather than be served. COP is a program of adults with developmental challenges who live within the community either alone or with a caregiver.

Catherine T. Fitzgerald, program director, noticed that COP was listed as a program that would benefit from volunteer service for the Season of Service. Working with Danielle Szymanski, program assistant, and the COP members, or “COPers,”, the COP Community Caring Group instead voted to participate in CRS Rice Bowl. The computer research and project groups designed an information flyer for the event and a thank-you certificate for those who donated.

COPers raised more than $251 for CRS Rice Bowl.


A lesson in microfinance

St John Vianney Parish in Kirkland, Washington, Archdiocese of Seattle, issued small loans of $25 each to the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade religious education classes, and challenged them to use the loans to raise money for CRS Rice Bowl. One class bought ingredients to make goods to sell at a bake sale. Another class bought a $25 Starbucks gift card to raffle.


Having fun raising funds

When you think about almsgiving, a science teacher with dyed hair running around a school building isn’t the first image that comes to mind. But this is how Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy High School in Everett raised money for those in need around the world. The stunt was one of the “services” up for bid in a schoolwide auction to raise money for CRS during Lent.

Throughout Lent, Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle found fun and creative ways to support the work of CRS and help alleviate hunger in dioceses of the United States. In addition to the auction, which raised more than $3,500  for items including homework passes, parking spaces, brownies and a Mexican-themed fiesta, Archbishop Murphy High School held other activities and events to raise more than $8,000 for CRS development projects.

“Every teacher, every homeroom, every club creates activities,” said Margaret Ames, a theology teacher at the school, “and all that money … goes directly to the Rice Bowl. So I call it ‘fun raising.’”

Nicole Mizuha, a math teacher at Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle integrated learning with fundraising. Mizuha tracked donations given by each class on five large graphs on the back wall of her classroom. While her algebra students determined the average amount donated by each student, more advanced students used mathematical modeling to try to predict which class would end up giving the most. Her 91 math students donated more than $2,500.


Share your best practices

Do you have a unique way to promote Ethical Trade? How do use your CRS Rice Bowl grant money? How do you get the word out about global emergencies? We know that you are doing great work, so share it with us and your colleagues across the United States.

Each month, we will highlight a couple of great ideas. So send us an e-mail! Be sure to include your name, diocese and an email contact, along with a short description like those above about how your community is promoting and CRS programs and fundraising.