Monica Saretsky is always looking for new means to engage her Grade 3 students and this year, she found one of the most special ways yet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all Albertans hard but seniors have been particularly struck by the virus. Family visits have been limited for many and contacts with the outside world have been few and far between.
Saretsky, a Grade 3 teacher at Ironridge Elementary in Blackfalds, had heard about Love From One, a charity that arranges unique gift boxes for seniors in central Alberta.
Each box costs around $60 and she hoped the class could raise enough to buy a few.
She also noticed that the boxes typically include notes – which was a perfect learning opportunity for her students.
“Any opportunity for them to have real writing experience is really important, so they’re not always just writing for their teacher, they’re writing for a reason,” she said.
The fundraising to buy boxes snowballed beyond the classroom and before she knew it, the whole school joined in for three weeks and raised $1,183 to purchase boxes for seniors.
“The kids were just losing their minds over it… It’s just been a really good way to get the kids involved in the community,” she said.
Saretsky said her students showed their true giving spirit with the letters and put together some heartfelt messages.
“Part of the current social studies curriculum is being a good citizen and what does that mean and how do people help each other. It was just a good, real situation,” she said, adding all four Grade 3 classes at the school combined to send nearly 80 letters.
“Seniors are hurting. The boxes go to seniors that generally don’t have family or visitors as well… a lot of (the kids) have concerns about their own grandparents during Covid, I think it just hit home for a lot of them.”
She added that the students even brought their A-game to the assignment and produced some of their best work of the year.
“Honestly, when I looked at their letters, from a teacher’s side the quality of their writing shot right up because they know somebody is going to be looking at it,” she said.
“I’ve seen the best writing I’ve had from them.”
Saretsky also explained that she always knew this was a special class, but the way they went above and beyond to help support seniors this year was just icing on the cake.
“It really just makes my heart really swell. This class is pretty amazing, to begin with, and they’re very loving. To see them kind of spread that love, I feel really proud of them,” she said.