During Bishop Foley Catholic High School’s Be the Difference Day April 26, Mary Ruth Oster and Anna Cavalier, both juniors, and sophomore Alex Loos wrap gifts for The Bottomless Toy Chest at the school in Madison Heights.

During Bishop Foley Catholic High School’s Be the Difference Day April 26, Mary Ruth Oster and Anna Cavalier, both juniors, and sophomore Alex Loos wrap gifts for The Bottomless Toy Chest at the school in Madison Heights.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Bishop Foley serves community on Be the Difference Day

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 3, 2019

 One of the wrapped gifts, which will be given to children in the hospital. Other volunteer groups from the school worked a variety of sites around metro Detroit on Be the Difference Day.

One of the wrapped gifts, which will be given to children in the hospital. Other volunteer groups from the school worked a variety of sites around metro Detroit on Be the Difference Day.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — As surely as winter turns to spring, Bishop Foley Catholic High School continues to mobilize a massive volunteer effort this time of year, serving dozens of sites. The annual tradition is called Be the Difference Day, and on this year’s outing April 26, the school tackled everything from street cleanups in Detroit to work at a rehabilitation center, local animal rescues, childcare centers, a cancer support community, healthcare centers, a fire station and more.  

“There is an incredible need in our community, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to serve,” said Ashley Hursin, the school’s director of mission and ministry.

About 430 people participated, including students, staff and parent volunteers. They fanned out across 20 volunteer sites in 11 communities across the metro Detroit area, and clocked a combined 185,000 hours of service. This year marks the 10th that the school has held the event.

Michele Colosi, spokesperson for Bishop Foley, said that the school has received feedback from several sites expressing gratitude for the work done.

“One of our students, in particular, visited St. Anthony’s Healthcare Center, and was able to interact with a Chaldean resident who did not speak English,” Colosi said. “This resident was very happy to visit with someone who she was able to communicate with.”  

The largest worksite was the O’Hair Project in Detroit, with nearly 60 volunteers helping there. The O’Hair Project is dedicated to the care and upkeep of a neighborhood bounded by Southfield to West Seven Mile roads and Evergreen to West Eight Mile roads.

Others helped the elderly, played piano and cleaned the grounds at Brookdale Memory Center, in Troy; organized diapers, baby clothes and toys at the Mother and Unborn Baby Care Center, in Southfield; prepared a children’s playroom at Gilda’s Club, a cancer support center in Royal Oak; cleaned cages and walked dogs at animal rescues I Heart Dogs in Warren and the Animal Welfare Society of Southeastern Michigan in Madison Heights; and cleaned up the Royal Oak Fire Station, where they also learned about fire safety and CPR.   

Not every site was far from the school. In fact, one group of volunteers stayed at Bishop Foley Catholic High School to package toys for The Bottomless Toy Chest, a nonprofit that provides toys to children fighting cancer in hospitals. The toys were donated through a toy drive at the school.

Others at the school made blankets for ill children and trauma victims through Project Linus, and ribbons decorated with messages of hope to be placed along the route of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.   

Mackenzie Kopf, a senior on the event’s planning committee, said the day was a success.

“It was nice to see that all the hard work and dedication put into this special occasion finally paid off,” Kopf said. “Be the Difference Day is a special tradition throughout the Bishop Foley community. It teaches students the importance of giving back to the community that is constantly giving to them.”

Bishop Foley Catholic High is located at 32000 N. Campbell Road in Madison Heights and can be reached by calling (248) 585-1210.