At the front of the Wellesley Public School library, there is a long table filled with items like footballs, tools, games and toys, gift cards, food items and more.
All of those items will be going to families in need in Wellesley Township in an effort to fight the hidden poverty in the community.
What started as a persuasive writing assignment for the school’s Grade 6 students has ended up as a drive to help those who need an extra hand.
Sue Martin was at the school in the spring, sharing with students what she does as a family outreach worker at Carizon, a family and community services program based in Kitchener. She works with families in Wellesley and was at the school on Tuesday morning to accept the donations collected by the students.
“I am overwhelmed and amazed,” she said after seeing the amount of things that will be going to help. “Some of it is for sure going to families that I know need certain things. Some of the footballs and all that, there are large families where this would be a great thing for them, especially in the summertime. For some of the tools, like the hammers and tape measures, that will be great for teen boys that do woodworking. They will absolutely appreciate having their own hammer and their own tape measure. It is just about having your own. It is a very important thing. Some of those things will be just fabulous. I am just overwhelmed. These kids are so persuasive. And kudos to the teachers for helping the kids to realize that there is poverty, because here it isn’t seen.”
Each student wrote a letter, amounting to more than 85 pieces of correspondence sent out to businesses all over Waterloo Region. Some of the responses were exactly what the students were looking for. Sam Chackraburtty read the letter he wrote to Staples asking for the company to donate some school supplies to families that couldn’t afford to send their children to school with a full backpack.
“Dear Staples, imagine waking up in a freezing cold house with holes, eating a breakfast of stale toast and expired milk, and then going to school with nothing but your clothes. It seems hard to think of, but this is everyday life for children of parents who are under LICO,” he read to the group gathered in the library. “LICO stands for low income cut off, but it won’t stand for anything in the future. My goal is to crush hidden poverty once and for all. That is why I strongly believe Staples should donate school supplies to LICO families to help cripple the threat of poverty.”
Grade 6 teacher Deb Sargent addressed the students, thanking them for their selflessness and hard work when it came to writing the persuasive letters requesting a little bit of help.
“We started this as a persuasive writing task, and usually at this age, persuasion and the power to persuade is for personal gain or benefit and Mrs. Beu and I wanted to reach beyond that and try to see if we could use our persuasive techniques to help others in need. Looking at the table, we can say that we did a great job. We talked about how we may or may not get a response, and we had some businesses respond saying that they had already made their donations for the year, or it is not a good time for us. And from others, we got some good news. Either way, we need the students to know that they have put their 100 per cent effort into it, and we have a lot to smile about.”