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Croutons for St. Jude

A second-grade class uses gourmet croutons to encourage donations for St. Jude kids.

Madeleine Valeiras was having lunch one afternoon at a favorite sandwich shop with a couple of her colleagues, Zabrina Valdez and Ana Cabrera, when she learned that the remainders of the shop’s delicious, homemade bread were often discarded. What a waste, thought the second-grade elementary teacher.

“I knew we could do something with that delicious bread,” she said.

Those pieces of bread, donated by the shop’s owner, would become flavored croutons that, when given away for a minimum $5 donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, raised $788 in one school year. 

That spirit of giving is vital to St. Jude, where families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

The gourmet crouton project, dubbed Live Whole (We are helping others live effortlessly), was led by Valeiras’s second-grade students at St. Brendan Catholic Elementary in Miami. Valeiras collected the bread pieces every two weeks, and students and parents met after school each month to package them in small cellophane bags. Each bag came with a sticker that read, in part, “We’re helping others love effortlessly. Second graders @ SBE are raising funds to give 100% of the proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

The students marketed the croutons, prepared with special seasonings and spices, to friends and family at school events and a “Walk for a Cure” fundraiser for St. Jude where students raised an additional $800. 


Second-grade students at St. Brendan Catholic Elementary in Miami, Florida. 

Watching the students understand the importance of giving to others is truly a wonderful part of being a teacher.
Madeleine Valeiras

The project is part of a larger, on-going initiative by St. Brendan called “Knocking on Someone’s Door,”
which is designed to help students develop social consciousness. Each grade at the K-8th grade parochial school selects a charity, and then teachers work with students to develop projects to support the charity and help students see how they can make a difference.

And the decision to support St. Jude as their charity seemed as if it was meant to be.  

The very day Valeiras talked with the sandwich shop about the bread pieces, she spoke with a family member who mentioned St. Jude as a possible charity. When she got home from work that afternoon and checked her mail, she had a letter from St. Jude


“It felt like divine intervention,” she said.

She hopes to continue the Live Whole project in the next school year.

“As an educator in today's world, it is important to teach our students about giving and being grateful,” Valeiras said. “Through this project the kids saw other children their age needing prayers and money to help them fight to feel better.”


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