East Three Kindergarteners and first graders have hearts of gold

Class of 16 took to the streets over Christmas holidays to distribute sandwiches to the needy

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Madam Elise Decarie-Jean and her Kindergarten-Grade 1 class pose in front of the Inuvik Warming Shelter. With her are Noah Cormier, Keira Hicks, Winnie Jenks, Anna-Jayne Lalonde, Eleanor McLoed, Molly Miller, Aidan Mysko, Curtis Jr. Taylor, Joseph Watt, Winnie Blake, Cianna Grimes, Maximilien Harlow, Oliver McAskile, Violet Nielsen-Roberts, Ivan Raska and Colette Reardon.

Life on the streets can be hard, but a group of little angels brought some warmth to the cold dark streets of Inuvik’s downtown last Christmas when a team of 16 kindergarten kids distributed sandwiches to the homeless Dec. 16.

“It was really good,“ said student Eleanor McLeod. “We got to make them and we did lots of stuff.”

Inspired by the 12 days of Christmas, the class decided to give back to the world this last holiday, braving -40 windchills to hand out handcrafted sandwiches in specially decorated bags.

Their teacher, Madam Elise Decarie-Jean, said she felt it was important to show kids the art of kindness early.

“Two or three years ago a friend of mine started doing the 12 days of giving,” she said. “Instead of you receiving, which is a lot of what you hear about Christmas. So they made a list of things they could do for kindness gestures. I really enjoyed the idea, and the group that I was working with last year had some challenges with kindness, so we worked on how to be a better human.

“When you have a lot, you give a lot.”

She reached out to parents of the students, who donated cold cuts, bread and cheese to help make the food.

Then the kids took care of the rest.

“It felt very good!” said student Violet Nielsen-Roberts.

“I never did this before,” said student Joseph Watt. “You can add some good flavours.”

Decarie-Jean said the class did a lap through downtown Inuvik to give their donations, eventually the kids found themselves at the warming shelter helping out.

“People donated ham and turkey, and we did a basic mayonnaise, mustard, sandwich meat and lettuce,” she said. “We just walked around and offered, without judging. If you have something to give, you just offer and people in need will say yes, some might say no. Because it’s kindergarten and grade one, the focus is on how to be in a group, socializing and seeing everyone’s needs, tastes, likes and dislikes are different, but it’s nice to get out and feed the compassion side of things.

“These are basic things you need to learn and should be a priority. I think the difference between the rich and the poor is just getting bigger and bigger, what kind of world they’ll be in when they’re adults? Looking at what’s happening now, it’s not getting better. As child I was instilled in me very early— no judgment and have an open heart. Those are the basic learning steps to being a good human.”

With the success of the effort, Decarie-Jean said she would be taking her class out to do the effort again, since it’s both helpful for the people in the area and teaches the students valuable lessons.

But for the kids, the adventure is a reward in itself.

“It felt really cool, I’ve never done that before,” said student Collette Reardon. “It felt really cool to do this.”

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