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Local students look to help their Haitian counterparts

John Mahood Public School’s Me to We club has been going strong since the fall when kids started to build on initiatives for the Free the Children organization. In that spirit of good deeds, the Elmira school is now collecting supplies for kids in Haiti.
Students at the school were quick to adopt the message of social change advocated by the Me to We movement, said teacher Bobbie-Jo Lovell.
“They are very open to it. It’s eye-opening for them to see what they have and what other kids don’t have. They’ve done a ton of initiatives,” she explained. “They went to a We Day inspirational talk in September. That’s motivated them to continue: we did our own mini We Day and had a musician come in; they’re pretty excited about it.”
More recently the kids had a visit from Dr. Steve Sider, part of Wilfrid Laurier University’s education faculty, who takes his students to Haiti as part of their studies and delivers supplies to La Clé  School near Cap-Haitien.
“He came in and talked to our group about where he goes and the needs that are there. He showed us some pictures of the kids and the school,” Lovell said.
Sider has worked with Haitian universities and the country’s ministry of education and nutrition centres. Last year, his travelling companions collected a number of Blackberry devices donated to school principals in Haiti to ease communication with their Canadian counterparts. During trip to the country, Sider and students also bring as many school supplies as they can carry.
Working off of their philanthropic efforts with Me to We, John Mahood students are looking to collect a suitcase-full of lightweight provisions including pencils, chalk, pencil crayons, sharpeners and cases, markers, erasers, stickers, rulers, scissors and a small French storybook.
“Chalk is a really hot ticket item. A big one, too, that we haven’t received is protractor sets,” Lovell said.
Me to We was started by the Free the Children, an international charity that was founded by a Thornhill-area youth Craig Kielburger in 1995. Its school programs, which include efforts by John Mahood’s club, fundraise for the organization’s youth efforts. The group has grown large over the year.
“I liked doing to We Day, seeing all the people speak and hearing all of the problems they went through,” said student Emma Wiseman.
Kids also got much of the school involved with Free the Children’s We Are Silent Campaign on Thursday and more projects planned for the summer.
So far the suitcase is about one third full, said Lovell. John Mahood students and their families can donate up until April 25 and questions can be directed to bobbie-jo_lovell@wrdsb.on.ca.

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