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Winchester PS social justice club works to welcome refugees

Winchester PS social justice club works to welcome refugees

Friday, December 18, 2015
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

At Winchester PS, every day is a day to make a difference. And in an inspiring display of action motivated by kindness and caring, the school’s social justice club did just that on the last day before the holiday break when they gathered to fill 50 backpacks with essential supplies for Syrian refugee children coming into the community.

The students, along with teacher Michael Jursic, have spent the last couple of weeks collecting school supplies and other items generously donated by friends, family, and more than ten corporate sponsors. In the new year, the backpacks will be distributed to Syrian refugee students arriving in the community 

Jursic explained how the project started as a way for the students to have a direct impact on an issue that has galvanized Torontonians and Canadians. “A few weeks ago, we were trying to figure out how we could respond in a way that wouldn't duplicate the efforts of others,” he said. “There are lots of food banks, clothing donations and furniture banks so we narrowed it down to backpacks.” 

The group then worked on a pitch letter that was shared with a number of organizations, and the results were impressive. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of supplies were collected. Backpacks were stuffed full of necessary supplies—rulers, pencils and pens, pencil crayons, a lunch box, hats and gloves, calculators, and toiletries. The students will personally deliver the backpacks as needed to new students in the immediate area and beyond. 

 “The connections they will foster with individuals and the Syrian community in diaspora will stick with them for the rest of their lives,” added Jursic. “We see some real, lasting friendships being forged out of this, and later, when the new classmates are settled, the real possibility of paying it forward.”

Grade 6 student, Jasmine P, agreed. "I hope my new classmates can make a difference later on, like we are trying to now," she said. 

Principal Rita Tsiotsikas was thrilled to support the students and their teacher with the kids-helping-kids initiative. “When I think about what they are doing to help others in the community feel welcomed and be successful in their new country, it makes me feel very proud and also confident about the future,” she said. “Our community and our world are in good hands with young people like this.”

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