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Call them Santa’s little helpers

Breanna Michael hold up a meticulously-crafted game piece. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]

For a group of EDSS students it’s the sound of bandsaws and sanders, not sleigh bells, that are heralding the holiday season and the spirit of giving. In the workshop, Alex Derma’s Grade 11 classes create wooden toys and games for charity for the last five years, this time for inclusion in Woolwich Community Services’ Christmas hampers, which will be put together next week at Lions Hall in Elmira.

Breanna Michael hold up a meticulously-crafted game piece. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
Breanna Michael hold up a meticulously-crafted game piece. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
It’s an activity that never fails to fire-up his students. Putting that extra care and detail into a game set, a puppet, a toy wooden car or plane is part of knowing the objects may be in someone’s hands and home for a long time.

“In the beginning they are very unsure of it: ‘Toys? Why build toys?’ and then once it gets closer to Christmas they all start really embracing it. Then we talk about the charity that we want to donate to as we move along. Then we go to the place, where they see how much need there is in the community. They get to see firsthand what is required out there that they never got to experience before,” Derma said.

Students research a different charity every year and make a field trip out of the delivery. Last year’s toys and games went to a Waterloo women’s shelter.

“WCS, it’s their community, they know a lot of the families in the community to support, so it kind of creates a little bit more of an attachment. Part of the rule is that they have to go so they see and experience the event itself.”

On Wednesday, Breanna Michael was putting the finishing touches on a Jenga game, even carving the word ‘Jenga’ into every piece.

“It is Christmastime so it’s always nice to do something [for others]. Most classes, you just kind of go to and learn, but you don’t do much for Christmas other than decorate the classroom, so it’s always nice to give back to the community too – they help out a lot here at the school. There’s a lot of kids who did try to do a lot more. It was cool to see all of the projects come together,” she said.

“When you are doing it for a charity, you want to work a little bit harder to make sure it’s perfect,” said student Mackenzie Stumpf .

He made four toys for the drive, two cars and two peg IQ games.

By midweek a box of small wooden board games and toys was filling up nicely. With 30 students in the class committing to making at least one object, Derma hopes to have about 40 toys to deliver to Lions Hall next week.

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