GORE BAY—Thanks to the efforts of students of the Grade 4/5 class at Charles C. McLean and great community support, Canadian Forces members will be getting at least one great present for Christmas this year.
“Once again this year we have had tremendous community support toward the Christmas boxes being sent to our troops,” stated Heather Jefkins, Grade 4/5 teacher at C.C. McLean this past Thursday. “This is actually our tenth year of sending boxes to our troops; we started in November 2006 by sending Christmas boxes to our troops in Afghanistan for Christmas.”
“The community support has been terrific again this year, the Lyons Memorial United Church UCW donated $200 toward items to be put in the boxes, and we had financial support of donations of money and of donations of food from students parents,” said Ms. Jefkins. “Staff members at the school have donated either cash or items to be put in the Christmas boxes. Also the Gore Bay Branch of BMO Bank of Montreal has provided Tim Horton’s coffee packages for each box, as well as some soccer balls and Deborah Woods and Heather Turner to help the students pack the boxes.”
“As you can see and hear today, the students have been very invested in this program,” said Ms. Jefkins. “They have gone out and got donations of money and items to put in the boxes and are packing them up today.”
Ms. Jefkins explained, “the students have each done some art work with the winter theme, ‘Do You Miss the Snow?’ to be put in the boxes. And flag art, where we took red construction paper, and I produced a maple leaf on white paper that is put on this. The students then wrote from a list of why they are proud to be Canadian.”
A letter has also been written by Ms. Jefkins and included in the Christmas boxes to each Canadian soldier. “Merry Christmas from Manitoulin Island. Please find enclosed in our box an assortment of goodies. I hope some of the items are what you were wishing for. My students and their families donated many of the items you see. The C.C. McLean staff and students from other classes also brought treats. We also had financial support from some of our students’ families, Lyons Memorial United Church UCW and the Gore Bay Branch of BMO Bank of Montreal which provided the soccer balls and sets of adult hands to help us with the packing.”
The 21 students in the class, along with Ms. Jefkins, Ms. Woods and Ms. Turner and volunteer Amber Merrylees prepared and packaged a total of 14 boxes. Each large box contains a bag of Tim Horton’s coffee, donated by BMO. Ms. Jefkins explained, “this was one of the special requests we had received for this year’s boxes, from the Task Force Commander that the soldiers would like to receive a box of Tim Horton’s coffee.”
The boxes also include muffin and cookie mix, muffin cups, a bottle of ketchup, a bag of Crispers, a bag of candy, a box of tea or hot chocolate, a bag of chocolate chip cookies, a box of biscuits, Kleenex, a bag of toiletries, two boxes of crackers, two boxes of cookies, one container of maple syrup in each, a package of pudding or apple sauce, a bag of candy and trail mix, along with a roll of toilet paper.
“We have well over $1,000 worth of items going into the boxes,” said Ms. Jefkins.
The packages boxes are all being sent to CAF members in South Sudan, as part of the U.N. Mission at Sudan. “South Sudan is the newest country in the world, having only become a country in 2011,” said Ms. Jefkins.
In her letter to the CAF members Ms. Jefkins explains, “you have been adopted by one or two members of my Grade 4/5 class. They have worked hard to write you a letter, and create some cards and art work that you might hang up to bring you a touch of ‘Kids from Home.’ I hope you enjoy their efforts. They range in age from eight to 10, and have all the enthusiasm of that age group.”
“This is the fourth year my class and I have adopted the CAF members working at UNMISS,”wrote Ms. Jefkins. “I think the work you have chosen to do is amazing. I have great respect for all who serve. You are our second project this year; the first being a project with CAF members based across Canada, which I call “Op Flat Stanley.” I feel very strongly about supporting Canadian Forces members, both those at home and those deployed to both combat and UN Missions.”
“So, from our little island to South Sudan, please know that we are wishing you a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. We appreciate the work you are doing so far away from home and family. I am trying hard to educate my students about the role of the CAF, and the sacrifices that both the serving members make, as well as the sacrifices their families make when they are far away,” wrote Ms. Jefkins. “Thank you for choosing to serve, you play such a very important role in our world.”