Overbrook Catholic sixth graders make a difference for Maui 

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Students at Overbrook Catholic School earlier this month made a difference by hosting a car wash that raised $1,275 to help the victims of the recent wildfires in Hawaii.

Between Aug. 8 and 11, the Hawaiian island of Maui was struck with multiple aggressive wildfires that destroyed more than 2,200 homes and killed at least 98 people. The disaster’s cause has not yet been fully determined, but the damage has already substantially uprooted the lives of thousands of residents of Maui. 

Overbrook Catholic, a Catholic private school in Nashville, hosted a carwash in the school parking lot on Oct. 7, washing roughly 50 to 60 cars in less than three hours and helping raise money for the Hawaii Catholic Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund.

“It went super well,” said Meagan Harkins, the marketing and communications associate for the school. “They put it together in only a couple weeks from being approved and put out flyers and school letters, plus a video on social media. In just two and a half hours, they raised $1,275 for disaster relief, and they were super excited for that.”

Service projects are a major part of student life at Overbrook Catholic. All of the school’s classes try to complete multiple service projects each year as part of the school’s mission, in accordance with Catholic teaching, modeling for the students what it means to love and serve their neighbors. 

“Knowing I wanted to complete a service project with my sixth grade science classes, I thought Maui would be a meaningful opportunity to teach my students,” said science teacher Gigi Diffenback. 

“I showed them the footage from the events, and we talked about what that loss might feel like,” Diffenback said. “As a class, I asked the sixth grade to come up with different ideas to raise funds for the Hawaii Catholic Community Foundation. Some ideas students had were a 5K, bake sale, book drive, and even a pizza party. Each idea was presented to administration and fellow teachers. Ultimately, everyone voted for a car wash, which a group of about six students presented, as a wonderful way to support the Maui Community.”

Sixth grader Helen Enstice initially proposed the car wash. She was initially afraid that nobody would show up, but was surprised and happy that many of their customers donated more than the requested $10 per car. 

“The students really liked helping out and thought it was a big success,” Enstice said. “It was cold but playing with the soap and cleaning cars with friends was really fun. I’ve learned that even sixth graders like us can help out with big problems in the world. I can do little things to help out.”

Oct. 7 proved to be an unfortunately cold date for a car wash, as the first wave of fall cold weather blew over Nashville between 46 and 66 degrees. However, spirits were very high and the camaraderie of the students kept the event fun and joyful for everyone involved. 

“They enjoyed knowing that their labors were being put to something good, which is good because that Saturday was one of the first cold Saturdays of the fall,” Harkins said. “But there was so much energy and interaction among the sixth graders and customers that their camaraderie was beautiful to see. It was being used for something good.”

“People thought it was a lot of fun to clean cars, especially doing it for a purpose didn’t make it feel like a chore,” said sixth grade student Nolan Blankush. “Little brains can do big jobs!”

When Diffenback teaches the students about earth sciences, she stresses the importance of being good stewards of the earth and of caring for the environment and people. 

The service project was an excellent example of this belief being put into action, helping those who have been hurt by such tragic circumstances, Diffenback said. 

“Our kids want to get out there and make a difference. They really understand God calls us to love one another and think it is important to do what they can to help those around them,” said Diffenback. “I loved seeing our students have so much fun throughout the day. Most people I spoke to gave our students really great reviews on their car wash skills, too.” 

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