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A valuable lesson in helping others

WHETHER it be money, goods, or services, donations from international schools to local schools for migrant children are a great help.

Children at the Ming Zhu Migrant Kindergarten in Xujing area recently received a much needed boost to their play time.

An initiative by Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), a partner school of You Dao Foundation, saw several hundred toys delivered to children in Ming Zhu.

The initiative was led by Michael Lee, a parent of a child in the kindergarten at WISS. "My son has so many toys that he would not miss some of them," Lee says. "I believe it's the same for many of the children."

He approached class representatives and before long, toys began to trickle in. Soon, the newly opened You Dao outreach office at the school was full of donations.

Representatives from grade 5 and grade 8 and teachers from WISS, along with WISS director and You Dao Foundation's board member Todd Flanagan traveled to the local kindergarten to deliver the toys.

"The needs of migrant children are many. Like all children, they need the love and support of their families. We are actively involved in the funding of school projects so migrant children have an opportunity to be schooled as sometimes they may not always have this opportunity," Flanagan says.

"In addition they need the tools of learning such as pens, pencils, books, toys, playgrounds and play equipment."

It wasn't long after the toys were delivered that dozens of children were delving into the boxes with looks of total delight on their faces.

Adults who took the opportunity to speak on behalf of the respective schools had little chance of quieting the children while votes of thanks were offered and received, but nobody cared.

The sound of happy children was distracting in the nicest possible way and it was a pleasant experience to stand back and observe children from different cultures and social economic backgrounds playing together as one.

"WISS children have been actively involved in donating books, toys and most importantly they donated their time," Flanagan says. "When children are exposed to charity, it touches them and hopefully this will assist them to develop compassionate hearts."

Students and parents from Yew Chung International School of Shanghai participate in the Giving Tree project, an annual charity event donating clothing and shoes to migrant children.

YCIS Shanghai has supported the Giving Tree project for many years. It started several years ago with only 30 bags and has now grown to 10,000 bags for children in migrant children schools all over the city.

Emma Luck, curriculum coordinator of YCIS Shanghai, says charity helps students connect with others less fortunate.

"It allows students to see what the lives of others are like, and then spend some time planning and organizing events that will raise money for them," Luck says.

"In all of our events, students are at the forefront of planning and then presenting and organizing. This is the best way in ensuring they understand what they are fund-raising for and have a more direct learning experience from it."

YCIS Shanghai Pudong's annual Charity Week in January exceeded all expectations with the weeklong drive raising 64,000 yuan (US$9,374) to help victims of the Haiti earthquake and for local organizations,

Students and teachers from ECE (Early Children Education), Primary and Secondary planned and participated in a range of activities to raise money. Activities included dancing for donations, various games and competitions, bake sales, art shows and gift shops.

New inclusions this year which also creates a buzz were opportunities to bid for your own year 11 student as a personal assistant for a day and a chance for secondary students to throw cream pies at their teachers.

"YCIS Pudong strongly believes it is never too early to instill philanthropy in children," Luck says.

"Once again, our parents were very supportive and we continue to be overwhelmed by their generosity. There is no doubt that the smiles on the faces of those people in need will be proof enough that in giving we receive."


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