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Garden Gift

In a neighborhood near Xavier, a group of elementary school children at Pleasant Ridge Montessori began summer school in June by getting really dirty—planting marigolds, cucumbers and squash in rich black soil. And the result was the fulfillment of a dream by 1955 graduate Dr. Robert McDonald to help Xavier students learn about hunger and poverty. Through a gift to the Center for Mission and Identity, three professors were given money to create projects with their students.

Ginger McKenzie, associate professor of education, applied her share to bring the summer garden project to life. The grant paid for the fruit, for construction of the garden’s elevated beds behind the school, and for garden tools, plants and seeds. McKenzie said her students learned as much as the children. “Dr. McDonald’s goal was to have Xavier students understand those who are hungry and less fortunate than ourselves.”

One of the other two professors who received grants is focusing on children who suffer from war and sexual slavery, and the other took students to Guatemala to learn about non-profit marketing. “A relatively small amount of money has helped faculty be really creative with their students and do an important part of the Jesuit mission—helping the poor and marginalized,” says Debra Mooney, assistant to the president for mission and identity.

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