AIKEN, South Carolina — Something as simple as giving a prisoner an oatmeal raisin cookie with sprinkles is one way an Aiken school is showing God’s love and mercy to those looking for hope.

As a way to teach children the importance of giving back, students at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic School recently baked cookies for men who are prisoners at Broad River Correctional Institution located outside of Columbia.

St. Mary Help of Christians is part of a Catholic parish of the Diocese of Charleston. The parish has a prison ministry that visits prisoners, and one request from the prisoners was cookies.

Each student at the school helped bake 5,000 cookies that will be given to the prisoners.

Joan LaBone, youth director for the parish, said it was her idea to have the students at the school bake cookies for prisoners. She said her goal is to teach the students about acts of helping others beyond donating to the food pantry, and baking cookies gave the student a personal connection to a prisoner.

She hopes each time a prisoner receives a cookie they will get to see hope.

“It is a way for them to do something concrete for them to do something for the people in prison instead of praying for them,” LaBone said.

Sixth grader Brynn Taylor said it was a good opportunity for students to give thanks and help people in need.

Another sixth grader, Olivia Cavero, said she learned about giving thanks and the works of mercy, which include feeding the hungry and visiting prisoners.

“We learned that it’s not just for the people who don’t have it, it’s great to do it for people, but you can also do it on your own,” she said.

LaBone said she hopes the students will have more concrete ways to serve the community and they will take it with them to adulthood.

“When you give them the opportunity to serve when they are young, they can take it when they are older and remember those good memories,” she said.