Inspired by the New York Times bestselling book An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff, the St. Joseph’s Academy community began making brown bag lunches in 2013 to help in the fight against hunger. Every week during the school year, students, faculty and staff prepare several hundred lunches, called Sticker Sacks, to be distributed by St. Vincent de Paul. As the 2022-2023 year comes to a close, so does the 10th anniversary of SJA’s efforts to help address food insecurity in Baton Rouge. The Sticker Sack program will resume with the start of the fall semester in August.
An Invisible Thread, the story of a successful ad executive and the 11-year-old panhandler she befriended, was read by Academy students as part of their required summer reading in 2013. When Schroff and Maurice Mazyck, the subject of her book, visited St. Joseph’s Academy on September 5, 2013, they were surprised to learn that their story so resonated with SJA students that they committed to sharing the simple act of kindness represented by a brown bag lunch prepared for a hungry child to take to school.
In the foreword to the 10th anniversary edition of An Invisible Thread, Schroff recounts the story which resulted in the creation of the Sticker Sack program. “When Maurice was young and poor and hungry all the time, I gave him a choice: Either I could give him money to buy lunch, or I would prepare a lunch for him,” she wrote. “He asked me if I planned to put his lunch in a brown paper bag. I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked him why he wanted his lunch in a brown paper bag. ‘Because when you show up at school with a brown paper bag,’ he said, ‘it means someone cares about you.’
“What a lesson for me to learn,” Schroff continued. “To me, a bag was just a bag. For Maurice, it was a symbol of love and concern and attention.”
Schroff also commended SJA for its decade-long commitment to helping those in need in the Baton Rouge community.
SJA Principal Stacia Andricain said the theme of Schroff’s book speaks to the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph to serve the dear neighbor. This is woven throughout the Academy curriculum and culture. “Look at this one thing that one person did for someone in a single moment, and look how it changed two lives,” Andricain said in the foreword.
In the 10 years since the start of the Sticker Sacks program, SJA has made tens of thousands of brown bag lunches. Each week, an athletic team, club or class takes the lead in preparing the meals.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt