Community & Current Events

Me to We: Canadian kids help tsunami victims

By: Jennifer Melo

Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

Me to We: Canadian kids help tsunami victims

By: Jennifer Melo

We asked readers to tell us about how their children contributed to helping survivors of the December 26, 2004 tsunami. Here are some of the ways Canadian kids responded to what's being called one of the deadliest disasters in recorded history.

Adam's aid
I was reading your web article on planting the seed of social responsibility in our children" and immediately my son came to mind.

Adam's school (C.E. Broughton in Whitby, Ont.) planned a school-wide fundraiser in order to educate the children on how to help others in need. Their reward was to be a school-wide pajama day. Adam is 4 years old and in JK and yet his teacher pulled me aside as they were leaving one day to explain that he had many questions about the earthquake and the floods. For the remainder of the week Adam would ask questions about how he could help, why this happened, what about the children and how would the money get to the people? My husband and I were at first fearful of his questions thinking that this was a lot for a four year old to handle. However, we could see that he was genuinely concerned for those who were hurting. He would pray for them and for the "army" that was flying over to help.

We sent in some money to his school and he came home that day saying he needed more because he was still worried. He asked to call his grandparents and once speaking to his grandfather, he quite emphatically explained the need to send in money to help the children. He said that they could give him the money and he would take it to his school. He, in the only way a 4-year-old could, offered suggestions as to how they could give money. For example Adam said, "you know when you buy something and the lady gives you back some money? That would be good for the children. So Grandpa, when you go shopping please save all the money you get back for me ok?" His grandparents, so struck by Adam's desire to help, did end up donating and Adam was proud to be able to take in a 2nd envelope.

It was such a huge reminder to me, his mom, that this world is so much bigger than us. Things are going to happen and we can't shelter them (our children) from everything. Adam's heartfelt desire to help was a challenge to even myself to think outside my "world" and to be prepared to help others.

Thank you for reminding us to acknowledge the altruistic nature of our children.

Peggy Willison

Noah's innocence
I know there are such wonderful stories of interest and insight when it comes to the social consciousness of the young. I have certainly discussed the disaster with my 3-year-old son, Noah, and he has seen some of the devastation on the television. However what he shared with me last night while we were lying in bed and reviewing the days events surprised me and gave me a warm sense of pride in my little child.

He looked at me and said, "Mommy I know that some kids don't have homes any more because the tsunami wave broke them. They can come and live with me and share my bed if they want, we could fit six or seven more kids in my bed." We then discussed the logistics of that, including the location of where this disaster occurred. He then looked at me and said " Mommy because it is so far away you will have to go get them and bring them back." I smiled at the wonderful innocence and sense of simplicity that he has, while silently wishing if only I could.

Lynn Greene, Red Deer, Albt.

Hockey help
My son's hockey team raised money during the two hockey games they had during the past weekend. We sold 50/50 and also did a bottle drive. Tonight at the rink, we invited the chaplain from CFB Greenwood to present the cheque and a picture was taken for the local newspaper.

Also on Friday, my son and his classmates (Grade 5) will be bringing baked
goods at school to sell to the kids in the school.

Hélène Péloquin, Kingston, N.S.

A giving game
Ryan started a fundraiser at his school titled "Donate one game and feed a family." His idea is to have all the kids in his school donate one video game to the fund. Ryan will then sell the games to our local video game store -- Ice Man, who is so great to participate. Ryan will then donate all proceeds to The Red Cross. This fundraiser will be going on for the entire week and will be a part of a bigger fundraiser that is taking place at school, called the "Blue ribbon campaign."

Ryan has lots of big plans for the upcoming year, he now knows how great it feels to do this and he now wants to participate in other fundraisers happening.

I can not tell you how happy this makes me, first of all because he is learning the importance of charity and helping others, but he's also giving up something pretty important to him (anyone who has an 8 year old boy can appreciate what I'm saying -- the Gameboy and Sony Playstation are their pride and joy) and when asked why he wanted to donate the video games he said it was because here he had all these great toys and games and all those people don't even have food or a home or even parents.

I could really learn a lot from my son, and I think we don't give our kids enough credit sometimes. When given the opportunity, they can do things only we could imagine, they have the most pure and noble hearts but most of all ,we need to remind them of what huge changes even them...little them...can make in somebody's life.

Kristy MacCormack

All in a week's work
I live in Sault. Ste. Marie, Ontario and I go to a high school there. Our school decided to raise money so last week we had different ways of raising money every day. On Monday we had a bake sale, which was going to last all week and on Tuesday and Wednesday, my Civics class made smoothies to sell, Thursday and Friday we had a tournament and you had to pay $5 to enter (register) a team. Anyway, on Monday our principal told us that we did a very good job and raised lots of money. All the high schools in my city did something to raise money. On Friday all the high schools had tsunami relief concert at the school and that also raised lots of money.

Mindy DeGregorio, Korah Collegiate & Vocational school

A fostering family of friends
I have three children and all my children have been affected differently. My children all gave their own money to give to the kids that need it in Asia. The thing that stands out to me is the effect it has had on my 7-year-old daughter. She gave $50 of her own Christmas money and insisted we help by fostering a child in Indonesia.

We just got the info about the child and she, and we, are thrilled. The little girl is two and my child as taken her picture to the school for show and tell and to urge more kids to ask their families to do the same. The other thing I have noticed is that she now does not sleep well. She has come to realize that a lot of these kids have no parents and she is afraid that she will lose us as well. All we can do is try to reassure her that we will be here as long as God grants us the time to be with each other and that many people are there to help these people and by what she is doing is making a difference. I am very proud of her and my fellow Canadians. Keep up the good work.


Lillian Lepore

Collective efforts
Children in the greater Victoria school district on Vancouver Island, B.C. were asked to bring in toonies for about three days. District-wide, this meant cash contributions that totalled over $85,000.

The great thing is the funds were to be matched by the Canadian government as it fell before the Jan. 11th deadline.

I saw many posters, hand-made by kids during that time.

This one really stayed with me "First came a wave of terror -- next comes a wave of hope." "Give so we can help kids like us."

Our world will continue to be in good hands based on the commitment and leadership I witnessed from children and teens in our region.

Cheryl Thorpe, Victoria, B.C. (Proud mom to two kids, ages 11 and 14)

Emptying Jar #4
My daughter Paige, age 7, has 4 jars for which she uses for her allowance. Jar #1 is for fun money, Jar #2 is for short-term savings (to save up to buy something she really wants such as a Fairytopia Barbie or a fish, fishbowl and fish food), Jar #3 is for long-term savings, i.e. university, and Jar #4 is for charity.

Paige has been using these jars since she was 3 years old at which time she would put a quarter into each jar. As she has gotten older, the amount has increased and the percentages have changed for each jar. She has donated to various charities, in small amounts, over the past few years and when it came time to donate for the victims of the tsunami there were no questions asked, she just went into her room picked up her jar #4, emptied it onto her bed and said, "Here, let's donate it all." So she donated all $48 to World Vision and subsequently, The Government of Canada matched that amount if the money was donated by a certain date. Very simple.


Wesley's Web work
My son Wesley Smyth is 11 years old. When he heard about the Dec 26th earthquake and tsunami disasters, he was motivated to do something about it. We researched different NGO's accepting aid funds and he decided, since his main area of concern was the children impacted by this disaster, to go with UNICEF Canada. He first registered with UNICEF Canada as part of their Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge and started an online donation page.

When school began again on Jan. 3, Wesley went in to see his principal and told him he wanted to organize a school-wide event to raise money for UNICEF Canada. The next day, they got started with a class-to-class challenge with the kids all bringing money from home. Wesley's campaign lasted from Jan 4 - Jan 11, the deadline for matching funds donated by the government of Canada. Through collecting online donations, personal donations, soliciting donations from nearby businesses and the event at his school, Wesley was able to raise almost $1,200 for UNICEF Canada. With matching funds, of course, that is almost $2,400.

Wesley and his principal went down to UNICEF here in Edmonton to personally bring them the money on the 11th. They were overjoyed. They thanked Wesley and made a huge impression on him, even asking him to be on the radio (which he was interviewed for on the next day). It was a fabulous experience for him and a great way to learn more about helping and making a difference, no matter how old you are.


The strength of the Canadian dollar
It was an incredible idea, suggested by a grade five girl at Ecole Westhaven Elementary, Alberta in the beginning of January. Her suggestion was for each child in the school to bring a loonie to donate for the aid of the Tsunami victims. It was so successful that the principal, Jo-Ann Reil ran with it and challenged the district to meet or beat their donation. That too flew and took off with great momentum. On a radio interview, Mrs. Reil announced that the children of the Grand Yellowhead Division were challenging the entire province of Alberta to follow in this aide campaign. By the end of that day there was approximately $67,000 and the loonies are still rolling in. I have no idea what the dollar figure is at now but I just want to say to all the children of Alberta. "Way to go!"

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Me to We: Canadian kids help tsunami victims