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Students helping students 4,100km away

A group of students, grades five and six, at Pearson Road Elementary School have taken on the challenge to fundraise for special needs students in an impoverished area of Mexico. 

Every day this week the students are running a lunch hour garage sale to go towards the cause. 

Their teacher, Melissa Abenante or Ms. Abenante, has always involved her students in causes to better our world. 

“It gives kids a sense of the fact that everyone can make a difference,” explains Abenante. 

“We do something local, we are just a few people in this whole big world and we can be global citizens, we can make a difference world wide, even though we are such a small school it is so important for us to care about the rest of the world.”

The kids are fundraising for a specific charity created by a local teachers, Jody Nelson and Crystal Zaseybida, called Pennies for Shade. 

Pennies for Shade is a fundraiser for a special needs school, Centro de Atencion Multiple Cihuatlan (Cam Cihuatlan) in Barra de Navidad, Mexico. 

A group of people, including teachers from Kelowna, are going to Mexico this week to spend some time at the school.  

In the first few days the Pearson student’s hard work and enthusiasm has earned $300 at the garage sale. 

The students are thrilled about the project and had much to say about why it was a worthy cause. 

Samuel Vanderheyden says, “It is a good idea to donate for special needs kids that don’t have what we all have." 

Alexa Macafee had her own thoughts, “I wanted to be apart of it because it is really important to help out people and we have so much and they don’t have so much.”

Jessica Rogers said, “I think it’s a really nice thing we are doing, it is really nice to give to someone for Christmas.”

Baljeevan Dhothar was very proud of the work and thankful to his teacher, “I think it is really good because we have so much stuff in Canada, and they have nothing and no parents and stuff. We are so rich in comparison so that’s why I care about this program.”

Carissa Klossen had this to add, “I think it is good to donate and help out with this because all of us have always had things to play with, we have friends, we have food in our cupboards, we have basically everything they can only dream of.”

“It is really nice because it is the holiday season and it is nice to give to people who are less fortunate than others,” added Kelly Page-et.

Sienna Schmitke shared her thoughts as well, “I think this is a really good idea because people in Mexico, especially these special needs kids, don't even have books or pencils or paper to write on, so we can raise money for them to have these things like people in Kelowna.”

“They don’t have stuff we have, we are lucky and they are kind of poor,” says Sierra Hunker. 

Kelsey Hoglin shared that giving is not just for Christmas time, “I think no matter what season it is, it is good that we are just giving them money and helping them out because it is always good to make a difference, and I think that is all we want, is to make a difference there.”

Andrew Knopf shared his own family’s experience in Mexico, “Kids down there are begging on the streets just for enough money to go to school and learn, they just want help, especially for special needs kids because their parents don’t have enough money to help them.”

Brandon Ringer piped up as well saying, “I think it is important that we are donating all this money because it is going to help the special needs kids go to school and have paper and pencils and just have a good life for the future.”

The lunchtime garage sale runs in the school until the end of the week. There is also a collection basket for ‘Liam,’ a child fighting cancer we featured on Castanet last week.

For more information on Pennies for Shade check out their website



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