Eliza Telford

Gold stars and global caring at Vedder

Students at Vedder elementary in Chilliwack find a festive way to help victims of the typhoon that destroyed parts of the Philippines.

A Christmas tree in the front lobby at Vedder elementary is adorned full of gold stars.

At first glance, the construction paper cutouts just look like another festive decorating idea. But look a little closer, and the world of giving opens up.

Each star has a name on the front and a wish on the back – all for the children and families affected by the massive typhoon that ripped through the Philippines last month.

Grade 5 student Eliza Telford doesn’t have family or friends in the Philippines, and she didn’t know much about the country, but the thought of losing her home, or worse, the people she loved was too much.

She had to do something.

“People have lost their lives, and their homes, and their pets, and their toys; I thought why not help them get new stuff, and food obviously,” said Eliza.

After brainstorming with her teacher, Eliza came up with the idea of selling gold stars for the school’s Christmas trees.

One plain star for $1 or a fancy one for $10.

She formed a crew of classmates to draw and cut out the stars, attach hanging hooks, design posters, get the word out by going from classroom to classroom, make announcements on the school P.A. system, and sales.

In two weeks the initiative has raised close to $400.

It’s also done so much more.

It’s broadened the minds of the entire student body, from kindergarten to Grade 6, opened them up to the global world, to a world that isn’t as fortunate as the one these Chilliwack kids live in.

“A lot of them don’t have the things we have,” said Grade 5 student Mikaela Stolz, who helped with the project. “It felt really, really good helping these people get better lives.”

Some of the messages hugging the trees include,

Anastasia: “I wish they could buy a turkey.”

Kaiden: “I wish for you to have a good life.”

Linden: “I wish you could have water.”

Grade 4 student Liisa Kauppi, who also helped with the project, dedicated her star to her great uncle who recently died of cancer.

The project was a warming force for her.

“It really makes me feel good inside to help someone,” she said.

Grade 5 student Sydney Ma was amazed with the school’s overwhelming response.

“I can’t believe we made it this far,” she said. “It feels amazing!”

The fundraiser struck a proud note within school principal Jonathan Ferris.

“Our school’s goal is to develop powerful thinkers and strong character,” said Ferris. “The fact, they came up with this idea on their own, and that it’s not adult-driven is really impressive.

“I am totally proud.”

The gold-star fundraiser closes today, Friday. All funds raised will be donated to Canadian Red Cross, and matched dollar for dollar by the Canadian government.

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