Loose change for Our Lady adds up to sizeable donation


Since December, students at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Regional School in Berlin have been dropping their loose change into homeroom buckets as part of a school-wide effort to raise money toward the repair of the Our Lady of Lourdes statue, that sustained significant structural damage during August’s earthquake.

The statue, which has stood atop the Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden for more than 60 years, was taken down in November to repair the numerous vertical cracks and chips that were caused by a shift in the statue’s layers when the earthquake struck.

Initiating the school’s fundraiser was first grade teacher Susanne Madden, who first learned about the Our Lady of Lourdes Fund after seeing a flyer in the Catholic Star Herald seeking donations.

Thinking it was a great local cause in line with the Catholic mission of charity, Madden took the flyer to the school’s principal and was given approval to start a penny drop to raise money for the statue.

The school created pamphlets about the Our Lady of Lourdes Statue fundraiser and distributed them to the children, along with collection buckets that were placed in each homeroom.

“The children were very enthusiastic about the fundraiser and the collection buckets quickly began to fill up,” said Madden. “It was amazing how excited they were at being a part of saving the Our Lady of Lourdes statue. I feel very proud of their efforts.”

Not before long, the students raised over $1,000 toward the statue’s repairs, with the fourth grade class coming in at first place for collecting the most change. Madden notes that her first grade class came in at a close third.

“The students, faculty and administration of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are to be commended for this accomplishment of raising much needed funds for Our Lady of Lourdes,” said Ruth Cila, executive director of the Lourdes Health Foundation. “This gift of support is greatly appreciated and we are pleased the students will now become part of the history of her restoration.”

The 30-foot, 15-ton statue made of rare Indiana limestone is currently in the process of receiving extensive repairs including everything from carving and installing new limestone using stainless steel dowels and epoxy to drilling interior holes to install additional tensioning bars and anchors for additional structural support. She is expected to be put back up toward the spring when the weather is more compliant.

To make a donation toward the repair and preservation of the Our Lady of Lourdes statue, go to http://www.lourdesnet.org/support/ourlady.php; via mail to: Lourdes Health Foundation – Our Lady Campaign, 1600 Haddon Avenue, Camden, NJ 08103; or via text by texting LHF to 27722 to give $10.