North Queens students rally around the Adopt the Troops program

·3 min read

North Queens Community School (NQCS) teacher Julie Ramey has helped launch a Christmas initiative for students aimed at spreading a bit of seasonal cheer among deployed members of the Canadian military.

Ramey has enlisted students in her Grade 9 Citizenship class to participate in an Adopt the Troops for Christmas campaign, and together they’ve amassed four large containers of items that will be shipped to military members who are away from home over the holiday season.

According to Ramey, the class participates in a variety of service-learning activities as part of its course work.

“When they learned of the Adopt the Troops for Christmas campaign they were immediately interested. It was great to see how quickly their energy grew around collecting small gifts for strangers,” she reported in an email. “Learning to give to others without the expectation of a response or pay off was an added bonus of participating in this project.”

The teacher added that the project coincided with preparations for Remembrance Day, so the students were also hearing stories of the past and feeling like they were supporting soldiers of the present.

“When I think about these soldiers, I know how much they go through, but I don’t necessarily put my mind to what thoughts they may have around the holidays. You know these brave men and women leave their families. They don’t get the joy of watching their families open gifts, they don’t get the joy of actually being surprised by opening gifts themselves. By sending these packages they get at least a little joy of Christmas. They receive these and are surprised to have a little bit of home,” Jayda Atkins, one of the students who participated in the project, commented in an email to LighthouseNOW.

“Action, messages and memories are passed down through the act of remembrance. Honouring our veterans and currently serving members through gifts, songs, poems, action and words remind our CAF members past and present that we are thankful for their service. May we always remember their sacrifices,” Abby Donnelle wrote in her email.

“This was an important project for us to do. Receiving these packages as a soldier is something for them to look forward to. They’re away from their families and receiving these packages will make them feel a little more ‘at home’ during the holiday season,” said Zaylin Lewis-Payzant, another student.

Dan Hennessey, Honourary Colonel of the 14 Construction Engineering Squadron, picked up the items from the school Nov. 8. He works closely with the Greenwood Military Family Resource Centre, which oversees projects of this nature. Hennessey was impressed with the students’ efforts.

“They did an amazing job,” he said. “They did a lot and they put together a letter to the community and made a poster to invite people to join in on the project. They put a lot of work into it.”

The four large containers included items such as socks, puzzle books, small Christmas decorations, beef jerky, cookies and candy.

As Honourary Colonel, Hennessey’s role is to work as a liaison between the squadron and the community.

“Talking to some of our members in our squadron that have been recipients of some of these packages that go out to places like Kuwait, Afghanistan and Romania, it really does mean the world to them,” he said.

Hennessey noted that generally the schools do up cards and letters, but he said there was an overabundance of them last year so this year he thought of changing things up a bit.

The items that the school contributed are combined with those from other schools that participate in the project. They are taken to the Greenwood Family Resource Centre where they are sorted. They are then packed into boxes and sent to deployed members and families around the world.

“It is a great way to focus on our military at this time of year, leading up to Remembrance Day,” Hennessey said. “The week leading up to the day is a time to reflect on members past and present.”

Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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