Evan­ge­line Mid­dle School stu­dents em­brace Tree of Hope

Gen­eros­ity to con­tinue ben­e­fit­ing com­mu­nity through­out school year

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA NEW MI­NAS, N.S. [email protected]

It’s an ini­tia­tive that in­stills the value of gen­eros­ity in young peo­ple and sets a great ex­am­ple for the com­mu­nity.

Stu­dents at Evan­ge­line Mid­dle School in New Mi­nas car­ried on the long-stand­ing tra­di­tion of the Tree of Hope this year, re­sult­ing in a moun­tain of do­na­tions for chil­dren and fam­i­lies in need at Christ­mas.

Grade 7 home­room teacher Freda La­rade said storm days cre­ated some chal­lenges but stu­dents were able to raise more than $300 through the sale of 25 cent “can­dy­grams” over five days dur­ing re­cess and lunch hours. A can­dy­gram is a candy cane along with a spe­cial mes­sage for the re­cip­i­ent.

She said stu­dents vol­un­teered to de­liver the can­dy­grams, made sig­nage and pro­moted the Tree of Hope cam­paign on Twit­ter and Face­book to rally com­mu­nity sup­port. The school com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing stu­dents, staff, par­ents and busi­nesses, also do­nated new items to the cause, plac­ing an em­pha­sis on gifts suit­able for teens.

The money and other do­na­tions, in­clud­ing gift cards, are di­vided evenly and do­nated to Chrysalis House and the Kids Ac­tion Pro­gram. La­rade said the ini­tia­tive em­pha­sizes the ne­ces­sity for ev­ery­one to work to­gether to ad­dress need in our com­mu­nity.

Stu­dents mak­ing a dif­fer­ence The Tree of Hope ex­ploratory will con­tinue into the new year with the stu­dents car­ry­ing on the char­i­ta­ble work, in­clud­ing pre­par­ing a meal for the Open Arms shel­ter. Gen­eros­ity tends to be fo­cused on the hol­i­day sea­son but the need for do­na­tions and other sup­port con­tin­ues year-round.

La­rade sums up the Tree of Hope ini­tia­tive with a fa­mous 1931 quote from Ma­hatma Gandhi: “If we are to reach real peace in this world, we shall have to be­gin with chil­dren.”

Grade 7 stu­dent Brooke Al­coe was im­pressed with the amount of do­na­tions they col­lected.

“There was a class com­pe­ti­tion and I think that helped bring a lot more stuff in,” Brooke said.

Some­times peo­ple need some­thing to fall back on at Christ­mas time. Fam­i­lies might not have enough money to pro­vide what is needed, so it’s nice that the stu­dents can help out with a fundraiser.

Brooke said it feels good to help mem­bers of the com­mu­nity who are in need and it’s im­por­tant to do so, not only at Christ­mas, but all the time.

Grade 7 stu­dent Kirsten Durber said it’s great there are peo­ple will­ing to give to those in our com­mu­nity who don’t have a lot. For fam­i­lies in need, she hopes the ini­tia­tive will help “make their hol­i­day” but it’s also im­por­tant to keep the spirit of giv­ing alive all year long.

“I think it’s great that ev­ery­one is help­ing out and hope­fully they won’t just do that around Christ- mas, they’ll do it all the time,” Kirsten said.

Sup­port greatly ap­pre­ci­ated Chrysalis House chil­dren’s outreach worker Linda Lapierre said the stu­dent ef­fort makes her feel op­ti­mistic and it bodes well for the fu­ture. These chil­dren will grow up to be the next gen­er­a­tion of vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity board mem­bers.

“They’re tak­ing their role as cit­i­zens and com­mu­nity mem­bers se­ri­ously,” Lapierre said.

She said the Tree of Hope do­na­tions are a big help to Chrysalis House at Christ­mas time. For the women and chil­dren at the shel­ter re­ceiv­ing this sup­port, just know­ing peo­ple care about them is a big thing. They greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the time, ef­fort and thought be­hind it.

Kids Ac­tion Pro­gram di­rec­tor Suann Boates said the Tree of Hope brings con­scious­ness to the fact that “in Kings County, poverty is alive and do­ing well … what hap­pens is a lot of folks spend their rent money for De­cem­ber on Christ­mas and then in Jan­uary, they’re in trou­ble,” Boates said.

She said they like to make sure that these fam­i­lies have some sense of food se­cu­rity, so they of­ten save some of the gift cards or food vouch­ers for distri­bu­tion in Jan­uary. Bus tick­ets and gas cards and clothes are also very help­ful.

KIRK STARRATT

Evan­ge­line Mid­dle School stu­dents gather around the Tree of Hope just prior to a spe­cial as­sem­bly on Dec. 21 where money raised and gifts do­nated through the ini­tia­tive were pre­sented to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Chrysalis House and the Kids Ac­tion Pro­gram.

KIRK STARRATT

Evan­ge­line Mid­dle School stu­dents gather for the Tree of Hope as­sem­bly.

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