For over five years, Selkirk Elementary School families have participated in a Secret Santa project benefitting the school's most vulnerable and in-need students. For each missing ornament on the school's Christmas tree, one child at Selkirk will receive a gift on Christmas morning, which they would not otherwise have received.
Early in December, the Kindergarten students coloured and decorated dozens of paper ornaments. On the back of each one was written the description of a fellow student in need - e.g. Boy, 8 years old; Girl, 6 years old. The tree outside the school office was decorated with the handmade ornaments.
Students and parents were instructed to take an ornament off the tree, purchase a special gift for the child described, and bring it, wrapped, to the school office with the "ornament tag" attached. By the end of the week the tree was bare.
Now, two weeks weeks before Christmas, the Inner City Team's office is bursting at the seams with returned ornaments attached to Secret Santa gifts.
"Our kids are phenomenal," says Vanessa Mani, Inner City Team Coordinator at Selkirk. "They blow me out of the water every single day. I had students coming up to me and ask 'I'm a 10 year old, can I have an ornament for someone my age?' That's the amazing community culture here at Selkirk."
There are over 60 families at Selkirk that will receive presents donated by students and their families. Mani estimates that students took over 45 of the ornaments home of their own volition, and parents picked the others.
"We have amazing kids here," says Mani. "They really care about each other."
Reflecting the tremendous kindness and generosity of the school's students and families is the now "undecorated" Christmas tree outside the Principal's office.
Click on the image below to check out our Flickr album for more photos.