Helping others have a happy holiday a tradition at VSB schools

Schools & Students

Schools across the Vancouver School Board have been celebrating the holidays by helping others less fortunate than themselves. Whether it’s raising money through gift sales, putting together care packages, or wrapping up gifts for others, VSB students are in a giving mood this season.

Kerrisdale Elementary Santa Sale

At Kerrisdale Elementary, the annual Santa Sale raised more than $3,000 for the Empty Stocking Fund. The Kerrisdale gym was filled with tables of gifts, books, toys and more, all donated by parents at the school. The littlest students filed in to the gym class by class, often escorted by helpers in older grades, where they picked out gifts for parents, siblings, grandparents and friends. Each gift cost $1 or $2, and all proceeds were donated to charity. The students wrapped up their gifts with bows and colourful wrap, filled with pride that they could give their family presents they chose themselves, and knowing that their shopping helped others.

Kerrisdale Santa Sale 2017

Dickens Elementary shoe box project

At Charles Dickens Elementary, 87 shoe boxes stacked in the school’s front hallway are filled with gifts Dickens’ families have donated for First Nations children in the Northern British Columbia community of New Hazelton. The shoebox campaign was speared-headed by parent Mike Jackson and I Love First Peoples (Vancouver), an organization that promotes reconciliation and education as a bridge between communities.

“We take a shoe box and fill it up with stuff for kids,” explains Sage, a Grade 5 member of the student council. “Mine was for a 13 to 16-year-old girl. I put in a coffee cup, socks and a book. These kids live in a town way up north with not very much around. They don’t have many roads and so it’s hard to get stuff for their families. We’re showing them that we care. Alex from Grade 4 agrees. “I hope they have fun with all the things inside,” he says.

“It’s very emotional to see the faces of the northern kids when they get this stuff; they’re like ‘Oh, my God people care’,” says Jackson. “With projects like the shoebox campaign seeds have been planted for a new Canada, reconciliation has to be taught. Learning, growing, and changing could take generations, but we’re starting and it’s going to happen.”

Dickens shoebox program 2017

Windermere Secondary gift donation

Students in the Girls Group and Boys Group at Windermere Secondary wrapped $14,000 of gifts for elementary students in need. Vancouver Police Department Traffic Section raised the money and the students helped select the gifts.

“For kids, Christmas is really special and everyone likes to get something,” says Grade 9 student Dinara Hewag as she wraps a gift. “Even though it’s not huge, it’s nice to feel included despite your financial state.”

 “We do this to make Christmas a little brighter in our communities,” says Cst. Mariya Zhalovaga, the VPD school liaison officer at Windermere. She supports the Girls Group, which helps build the leadership skills and self-esteem of its members. The group also offers workshops for the students, she adds.

Windermere holiday gifting