Students bring Christmas to 200 local children

Greely Road School’s little angels help Salvation Army program

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Students of Greely Road School with grade 4 teacher Tammy Grisch on December 11. Grisch initiated the Christmas Angel Tree Drive for the Fort McMurray Public School District last year, and three more schools have joined since. SUPPLIED PHOTO: FMPSD

Students of Greely Road School with grade 4 teacher Tammy Grisch on December 11. Grisch initiated the Christmas Angel Tree Drive for the Fort McMurray Public School District last year, and three more schools have joined since. SUPPLIED PHOTO: FMPSD

The students and staff at Greely Road School celebrated a second annual success with their Christmas Angel Tree Drive on December 11.

“The students are so excited about the tags and they were so proud when they brought in a gift to put under the tree,” said Tammy Grisch, a grade 4 teacher at Greely Road School. “They truly felt, and know, what generosity is.”

The initiative was kick-started last year by Grisch, after the launch of a school-wide goal to increase citizenship within their students. The result was 330 tags being taken from the Salvation Army of Fort McMurray’s Angel Tree program. (This citizenship goal also included the school taking part in: a variety of food drives, visits to the Geriatric Ward at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, providing Blessing Bags for the Centre of Hope, and much more.)

This year, Grisch continued a citizenship focus in the school. She shared how the enrollment for the tags were down with a goal to fill 200. With Greely being the smallest school in the District, she said they still have a whole lot to smile about.

“Even though we were down with filled tags, I am so proud to say that we filled 200,” she said. “With the lower enrollment of students we have had, and the hard economic times our community is facing, I’m quite impressed.”
A mini-celebration was held at the school, where representatives of the Salvation Army met with the students and staff as they loaded the gift packages into courtesy vans provided by SHAW TV.

This year, Timberlea Public School, Westwood Community High School and Westview School, also took part in their initiative.

“It was quite special when one student said to me that they were so happy that one kid would have a better Christmas this year… just because they helped,” Grisch said. “It’s a hands-on way where students can feel they are making a difference in someone’s life locally.”

The Angel Tree is a one of the Salvation Army’s longest-running programs and provides families who struggle with meeting their financial needs. According to their website, the program “provides new clothing or toys for children of needy families through the support of donors.”

The tags on the tree show the first name, age and gender of a child in need of a gift. This way the donator can provide something special and appropriate for the children described on the tags.

“There are many ‘angels’ in our community. And more specifically, the school children,” said Joan Nobles, program manager of the Salvation Army of Fort McMurray.

“We appreciate each and every one of them for their willingness and thoughtfulness towards others. The Salvation Army is limited in the number of workers we have. But when children and others join the ranks… something magical happens,” said Joan Nobles.

“We appreciate each and every one of them for their willingness and thoughtfulness towards others. The Salvation Army is limited in the number of workers we have. But when children and others join the ranks… something magical happens. My prayer would be that the children would truly know how important the gift they give really is. They may never see the smile on the child who receives their gift, but like us all, they will receive a blessing.”

For the students and staff at Greely Road, Grisch believes they’ve made that difference.

“We aim to have a huge heart at our small school and I believe we have succeeded. Two hundred kids will wake up with gifts under the tree and big smiles on their faces,” said Grisch.

– Connect Weekly –