Multicultural class bands together for Japan

Over spring break, students from Panorama Park Elementary raised more than $2,000 for relief efforts in Japan by canvassing their neighbours for donations. - Brian Giebelhaus photo
Over spring break, students from Panorama Park Elementary raised more than $2,000 for relief efforts in Japan by canvassing their neighbours for donations.
— image credit: Brian Giebelhaus photo

Students at Panorama Park Elementary have raised more than $2,000 for earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan.

The children were inspired to help after Grade 5/6 teacher Mirek Marounek showed his class a clip of the crisis just before spring break.

“One of the students asked me, ‘Is there anything we can do?’” Marounek told Peace Arch News. “I said that they can fundraise money.”

Grade 6 leaders from Marounek’s class and one other class researched charities, and decided to fundraise for the Canadian Red Cross.

Students made posters and walked with their parents around their neighbourhoods – including to grocery stores and Guildford Town Centre – collecting money throughout spring break (March 21-April 1).

One Grade 5 student, Mahum Syeda, begged her mother to go out with her to collect. The mother later told Marounek how Mahum’s younger brother and sister helped with the posters, and the whole family canvassed the neighbourhood every day.

They ended up collecting $575 on their own.

“The mother told me how they came across a Japanese family and how the woman who opened the door started crying because of the emotion of a whole family from Pakistan fundraising for the people of Japan,” Marounek recalled.

He noted that students in his class have families from all over the world. While half are Punjabi, others have roots in places such as Austria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa, United Arab of Emirates and Fiji.

“They all recognized the pain of the Japanese people and the need to help.”

After spring break, the two classes returned to school with around $1,500 in donations. They created more posters to put around the school earlier this month, and continued to collect funds until April 11.

The final tally was $2,139.90.

“If a couple of dozen students from two classes can organize and raise so much money... anyone can do amazing things to help around the world,” Marounek said.

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