As they anticipated celebrating the holidays with presents under the tree, sitting down to a big meal with family and playing in the snow, Sand Creek Elementary School, Coon Rapids, students turned their thoughts to those in need.
Together the students followed the lead of their student council members, channeling their energy and excitement into a week-long charity drive for those who couldn’t buy presents, who had no food, who were without a home.
Participating in the events (something they called Sand Creek Tied Together) children pooled their energy supporting the Christmas Committee, donating to Toys for Joy, collecting food items, giving to Granny’s Christmas Closet and championing the Anoka-Hennepin Family Welcome Center.
Their final act of pre-holiday helping efforts had the children creating 80 tie blankets Dec. 21 – the last day of school before winter break.
At day’s end, students gathered in the gymnasium to reflect on the importance of giving.
“What an amazing feat you did this morning and all week long,” Principal Paul Anderson said.
“I saw children working together, children smiling and enjoying doing something for someone else. That’s what the holidays are about – it’s all about giving.”
After singing “It’s a Small World After All,” Sand Creek students listened to Anderson read a children’s book to them, called “The Can Man.”
The book tells the story of a boy who collected cans to recycle and instead of using that money to buy himself the skateboard he wanted, he gave the money to a homeless man.
“The point of this story is, you don’t always have to think about yourself,” Anderson said. “That’s what you kids did today. You spent the day doing something for someone else.”
Julie Wippler, the school social worker, told the children the blankets they made would go right back to families in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.
“And those blankets you made will keep on giving. They will give warmth to the families – some of them don’t have a home – and your blankets will help them know someone cares,” Wippler said.
Karrie Schaaf, homeless family advocate for the school district, told the children, “Because of your big hearts and the big work you did, we have something special we can share with people who don’t have a house or apartment to go to. Thank you for sharing your big hearts and your big work.”
According to Anderson, staff at Sand Creek are hoping to make the school’s Tied Together effort an annual event.
“We look forward to continuing to teach our students and to model the importance of giving,” Anderson said.
To learn more about Anoka-Hennepin School District’s Family Welcome Center, visit www.anoka.k12.mn.us and search for “Family Welcome Center.”
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]