CCA's flexible schedule allows student to explore passion for community service
Julia Guagliardi packs and ships supplies to impoverished children worldwide as a volunteer for Operation Christmas Child.
Julia Guagliardi has a passion for learning, exploring and acting locally to make a difference globally. That’s what makes CCA the right fit.
“CCA allows you to not only have a good education but also pursue your passion and have a good life while doing it,” said Julia, a CCA senior.
Julia will be the second in her family to graduate from CCA. Her brother, Joe, graduated in 2016. Being enrolled at CCA allows the Guagliardis, of Nazareth, Northampton County, to travel as a family when it suits their schedule — whether it’s seeing plays in New York City or delving into history at Colonial Williamsburg.
When her father, Gary Guagliardi, went to Seattle and Alaska on business in fall 2017, Julia went along. She indulged in her love of hiking and photographing spectacular scenery because she can always do her schoolwork ahead of time or take it with her.
“We believe that education is important, but so is experiencing different cultures and learning about the world,” Julia said. “We came to CCA for the flexibility.”
CCA also gives Julia the time to pursue community service in an impactful way. Through a friend of her mother’s, Julia became a student relations volunteer for Operation Christmas Child, a project of the Samaritan’s Purse global mission.
Julia talks to groups, distributes materials and even enlisted CCA’s involvement in the annual project to pack and ship shoeboxes full of necessities and delights to impoverished children worldwide.
“We’ve heard stories how 20 kids would line up to use the same toothbrush, or brush their teeth with a stick,” Julia said. “It’s these places where annual income is $15 to $25 that have close to nothing. We send these shoeboxes to kids and give hope and joy for their lives.”
For Operation Christmas Child, Julia has spoken to youth groups and clubs to raise awareness, led “packing parties” and events at local businesses and organized her tennis team to conduct a fundraiser. Players brought boxes to a match and wore Christmas socks.
“It’s so important to give back,” she said. “Especially in my age group, there are so many people who are focused on their life, which is important, but it’s also important to be able to help others. We’re all going to grow up, and we have to be able to take on these roles.”
Toward that end, Julia is learning invaluable lessons in leadership.
“You give people the opportunity to help out and make a difference, and they are always willing to jump on that.”
CCA, seeing the service-learning opportunities in Operation Christmas Child, helped Julia and her mom, Sherri Guagliardi, promote the program. The mission supports the Climate of Caring that the school is trying to create.
CCA families can pick up boxes and instructions at their local Family Service Center. Representatives are bringing boxes to some field trips. Participants are encouraged to post their experiences on social media with the hashtag #IPackedaShoeboxCCA.
“This helps CCA students reach across borders,” Sherri said. “It’s all about kids helping kids and families helping families. In some countries, if you don’t have paper and pencil, you can’t go to school. This is about schoolkids enabling schoolkids over there to go to school.”
Julia said she appreciates the real-world examples CCA uses in her lessons. In her senior-year AP statistics course, for example, she recalled her teacher using data about life in the U.S.
“Teachers don’t just teach to pass the test,” she said. “They focus on applying what you’re learning to the real world and why you’re learning what you’re learning.”
After graduation, Julia hopes to study business and communications in college, using her love of writing and photography. CCA has “been a blessing” for the Guagliardi family, Sherri said. Even Sherri’s mother, Virginia Palmer, has enjoyed field trips and studies with her grandchildren.
“We can create quality time as a family and share in the educational process,” Sherri said. “The trips and experiences we go to have been because of CCA’s flexibility. You have to follow what’s best for you and your family, and we felt that God was leading us here. It has opened so many doors. Because of this foundation, my children will be able to do well in college and beyond.”