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John Mahood students eager to give back

Shemira Sheriff’s Grade 4 French immersion class held a poetry cafe to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House, in support of former John Mahood Public School student Zachary Cressman. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Shemira Sheriff’s Grade 4 French immersion class held a poetry cafe to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House, in support of former John Mahood Public School student Zachary Cressman. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
French immersion students at Elmira’s John Mahood Public School showed un esprit de générosité this month, as Shemira Sheriff’s Grade 4 class donated more than $200 to the Ronald McDonald House charity.

The class raised some $400 total at their annual French café in May, where students hosted their families for an evening of coffee, treats and poetry.

Inspired by former John Mahood student – now at Park Manor Public School – Zachary Cressman, who is being treated for apalastic anemia, a rare blood disorder, the choice of where to donate the money was obvious for the class, Sheriff said.

And it certainly provided an extra boost of motivation.

“We have been doing this for three years now,” Sheriff explained. “It’s really the students’ project. So every year, after they have raised the money at the cafe by selling pastries that are donated, they decide where they want the money to go. So they do some research and they talk to their parents and they come back and we talk about it. We put the choices up on the board and then they vote.”

It’s a great way to get the kids thinking about their values and the importance of charity and volunteerism, she said.

“The way the Ronald McDonald House came about this year was because of Zach Cressman.”

The Cressman family of Elmira have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in London, which provides accommodations for families with children undergoing treatment at hospitals far away from their homes.

Zach has been in hospital since mid-February, requiring platelet and blood transfusions several times each month.

It has been a very challenging period for the family – doctors still aren’t sure how or why he developed the illness – but the support from the community and the Ronald McDonald House have been a big help.

The class also purchased gift cards for Walmart to donate to families at the school who are struggling to make ends meet.

Ronald McDonald House representative Kelley Montfort visited the class June 5 to accept the donation.

“The best part of my job is getting to meet kids like all of you who take care of your families and your communities and you understand that it is really important,” she told the class. “You should all be very proud of yourselves.”

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