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Upper Grand schools find ways to help Fort McMurray

At Rickson Ridge Public School the aid came in the form of a list of resources to help students and families of Fort McMurray understand and cope with natural disasters

Schools across the Upper Grand District School Board are pitching in to help with relief efforts for Fort McMurray.

Selling popsicles, bake sales, collecting donations for the Red Cross: numerous schools are involved in helping out those displaced and damaged by the wild fires that have ravaged the area.

At Rickson Ridge Public School teacher/librarian Jessica Patrick found a unique way to help the children of Fort McMurray, using knowledge instead of dollars.

Patrick contacted the Fort McMurray Public School District to ask what they needed. Not knowing just how damaged the schools were by the fires, she expected to hear back that books and school supplies would be top of the list.

"Actually I expected not to hear back from all," Patrick said. "I thought they would be so overwhelmed with what's been going on. I was shocked to even get a response."

Instead what the school district in Fort McMurray wanted was knowledge.

"They e-mailed me back and said that what they were looking for immediately was some suggestions for books for families, students and parents in terms of getting through natural disasters," Patrick said.

"I thought that was wonderful because it was the perfect job for teacher/librarians. It was something we could absolutely do."

Patrick has started a public Google site called Resources For Those Affected By Natural Disasters that contains a list of books or reading materials to help children and parents better understanding disasters, storybook heroes who came out better as a result of a disaster and parents working with a child experiencing a disaster.

Teacher/librarians and others can log onto the site and make suggestions. Families in Fort McMurray or staying in Edmonton will be made aware of the site and use local libraries to connect with the recommended resources that might help them get through and understand such a difficult time.

Dr. Brenda Sautner, Associate Superintendent, Education & Administration at the Fort McMurray Board, has alerted the teachers and librarians throughout the board of Patrick's efforts.

"Our sincerest gratitude to you Jessica for your generous offer of help!" wrote Sautner in an email.

"I know how important resources are, so I'm so glad they thought to ask for something like that," Patrick said.

Here's a partial list of some of the other things being done by UGDSB schools to help the people of Fort McMurray:

- James McQueen Public School in Fergus is collecting donations, hoping to raise $1,000 to send to the Canadian Red Cross. On Wednesday, the school raised more than $250 selling lemonade.

- John Black Public School is having a four-day fundraiser, selling items daily during nutritional breaks. On Friday, staff and students will bring in nut-free treats for a school-wide bake sale. All proceeds will go to the Red Cross.

- At Brisbane Public School in Erin, a few students asked how the school could help families that lost their homes to fire. As a result, the school began collecting donations for the Red Cross, encouraging the school community to make a donation at the school or through the school’s online system.

- Students at Elora Public School are encouraged to bring in coins for donation from May 11 to May 17.

- Students at Drayton Heights Public School are organizing a school-wide challenge, asking classes to compete with each other to raise the most money.

- On Friday, members of the Laurelwoods Elementary School Student Council is selling freezies with proceeds going to Red Cross.

- On Wednesday, Gateway Drive held a bake sale for Fort McMurray fire relief.

- Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus is holding a “Falcons for Fort McMurray” fundraising dinner on May 26. At that dinner, the school will show a presentation that was created by the Exploring the Arts class. Students recorded a song about Fort McMurray and are also creating a video and album cover, encouraging people to donate to the Red Cross.

- A Grade 8 student at Erin Public School is organizing a fundraiser where students bid to ‘pie’ their teacher. Students will drop money in the teacher’s bucket they’d like to see get a whipped cream pie in the face. Students can also donate money in a bid to be the student that gets to throw the pie. All proceeds will go to the Red Cross to help fund emergency food supplies, clothing, shelter and more.

- A Grade 7 class at Taylor Evans Public School in Guelph is selling ice cream sandwiches and collecting donations over a number of days. They raised $627 in the first day.

- On Tuesday, Centennial Hylands Elementary School’s Me to We group is holding a bake sale with all proceeds going to the Red Cross’s Fort McMurray fire relief.


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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