From kid to kid

Grade 1 students from Red Wing School pose inside an Ambulance while loading their Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes on Nov. 5, 2018. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Grade 1 class makes Christmas Child donation

Mrs. Parenteau’s Grade 1 class was full of energy and anticipation Monday when Parkland Ambulance arrived for a visit.

While the students were excited to see what the inside of an ambulance looked like, they were also excited to carefully load their own precious cargo into the back of the vehicle — 23 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Parkland Ambulance was paying Red Wing School a visit to collect their boxes and thank them for doing their part to make Christmas a little brighter for less fortunate children around the world.

Operation Christmas Child is a way Canadians can help struggling children in the developing world by filling shoeboxes with toys, hygiene items, school supplies or other things kids might need. The boxes are distributed to a variety of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa.

It’s a project Parkland Ambulance takes on in the city every year, collecting about 1,500 shoe boxes. Anyone looking to contribute is encouraged to bring their shoeboxes to one of Parkland Ambulance’s offices during collection week, Nov. 13-16.

For the students at Red Wing, it was an opportunity to learn about needs and wants, and a way to understand the plight of the less fortunate around the world.

“This is the first year we decided to do this. We really wanted to connect it with the social studies curriculum, and it fits in really perfectly with our needs and wants unit,” teacher Katelin Parenteau said.

“We had some really compassionate conversations. They were sweethearts knowing that these were going to people who needed them.”

The class set a goal of putting together ten shoe boxes — five for boys and five for girls. They collected 23.

Mrs. Parenteau’s Grade 1 Red Wing School class poses with their Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes on November 5, 2018 (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald).

“We chose to do children the same age as them so they could make the concrete connection to who they’re helping. We did really well, and they’re just so excited.”

Once the project was over, Parenteau contacted Parkland Ambulance to find out where she could drop off the shoeboxes. They said they would come with an ambulance to pick them up.

“That was really special,” she said. “We didn’t expect that at all.

“We have lots of really excited grade ones in there.”

The students weren’t the only ones who were excited.

“It’s wonderful,” Lyle Karasiuk of Parkland Ambulance said.

“I’m so thrilled students at Red Wing contributed. It means we’ve seen some wonderful giving happening in our community, and I ho[e that for the rest of their lives, they’ll be as generous as they are today to support people they don’t even know.”

Once the boxes had been collected, the Parkland Ambulance representatives spoke with the children about the importance of the project. The students said they put tongs like pencils, hygiene products, colouring books and even some toys inside the shoeboxes. Throughout the project, the students treated the gifts with reverence and care.

“One little fella mentioned that he had given a toy he had gotten for his birthday in his Christmas box,” Karasiuk said.

“I think that’s so special.”

Many of the students understood that they were giving something important.

“Giving is something we often take for granted,” Karasiuk said.

“It is so important to give more than we receive. I’m so thrilled the students at Red Wing started off our Operation Christmas Child in such fine fashion.”