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A touch of French life fuels students’ donations

French Immersion students voted to split a $255 donation between the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Canadian Service Dog Foundation.

French Immersion students at John Mahood Public School proved themselves très généreux last week, as Shemira Sheriff’s Grade 4 class donated $255 to two worthy charities.

It all began when the students held a café/poetry night, designed to combine French language with French culture. As students performed their self-composed French-language poems, they also sold coffee and pastries parents and other guests, as if at a pâtisserie in the Left Bank.

“Our goal was only $100, but we did $255 instead. So I said, ‘That’s a lot more money than I expected, so now we have to choose the charity that we want to donate to,’” said Sheriff. While the money was originally intended to help fund a field trip or class pet, Sheriff found little resistance to the suggestion of a donation. “I was pleasantly surprised,” she added.

French Immersion students voted to split a $255 donation between the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Canadian Service Dog Foundation.
French Immersion students voted to split a $255 donation between the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Canadian Service Dog Foundation.

“I had them research seven different organizations in groups. They did the research, make presentations to the class, and then the class voted.” From this process, the students decided to split the $255 between the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), which provides disaster relief, and the Canadian Service Dog Foundation, which trains and donates guide dogs for the needy.

At a presentation to the class on Wednesday, MDS volunteer Susan Bauman described her experience rebuilding houses in Staten Island, New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and accepted the donation on behalf of the organization. “We really want to do things to help each other, and I’m sure you guys do that in many ones. One way is with this donation that you’re giving us. … It takes money to do the job,” Bauman told students.

The donation was made in honour of Eddie Bearinger, grandfather of John Mahood student Leah Shillington, and one of the founders of the local MDS.  Fred Lichti, minister at the Elmira Mennonite Church, was on hand to describe the organization’s 60-year history, and discuss the role played by Bearinger, who died on January 11.

“Leah’s grandfather was a very good organizer,” said Lichti. “He would go in, very early on, and assess the damage to see what needed getting done, and then send out the word across North America. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people would respond to assist with the cleanup.”

The class plans to donate the other half of the money to the Canadian Service Dog Foundation on Monday.

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