From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

RE teacher, students send their ‘helping hands’ to East Coast

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 25, 2001 edition of the Inland Register

How does a teacher show very young children in a concrete way that they are praying for the children back East affected by the tragic events of Sept. 11?

That was a question pondered by Becky Buergel, who teaches a religious education class for children ages four to six at Sacred Heart Parish in Tekoa. The answer, which she said came to her in the middle of the night, was “handprints.”

What Buergel worked out was to have the children make handprints on paper with their names inside, and then send the handprints to children in New York City.

As she began talking about the project, interest began to grow among the older parish youth and their teachers. As word spread in Tekoa, the community’s two other churches, United Church of Tekoa and the Tekoa Mountain Bible Church, also wanted to take part.

The project took on a national dimension when the idea surfaced that the parish could send the handprints to other churches on the way to New York City. It also helped the group name their project: “Healing Hands Across America.”

Buergel and her helpers decided to start the project off with prayer. An ecumenical prayer service was held Sept. 28 prior to a home football game in Tekoa, to launch “Healing Hands.”

Buergel had purchased a 1,300-foot roll of butcher paper and everyone at the service, of whatever age, was invited to trace their hand on the paper with crayons. They could write a note in their handprint, including their address if they wished, so the children receiving the hands could choose a penpal. Donations were suggested but not required, and $200 was collected, which will be sent to organizations helping children.

After the prayer service, the roll of butcher paper was taken to the football field to catch people there, and other handprints were added after a couple of Sunday Masses at Sacred Heart Church.

The roll of butcher paper has started its journey. Its first stop was Worley Elementary School in Idaho. Great Falls, Mont., is next; from there it will go to Jamestown, N.D.

She said the hope is that the roll of butcher paper, with its hundreds of hands reaching out to children struck by the nation’s tragedy, will travel across the northern United States to reach New York City by Nov. 22 – Thanksgiving Day.

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