Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two, Four, Six, 700 Teddy Bears!

In the midst of chilly autumn weather, kindergarten through sixth grade students, teachers and staff from Clissold Elementary and La Salle Academy found a way to stay warm and fuzzy on Wednesday.

Between the two schools, a total of about 700 teddy bears were collected for the Teddy Bear Drive for the Red Cross.

At both schools the sixth graders were in charge of directing the five-day collection of teddy bears. Some sixth graders sported Red Cross gear such as t-shirts and vests. Dominick, a new sixth grade student at Clissold Elementary, was feeling glum the morning of, because he forgot to wear his Red Cross accessory. A little later, a Red Crosser gave him a hard hat with the Red Cross symbol on it, that happened to be in the truck. Dominick was ecstatic and told me, “I am so lucky I get to look this cool!”

At Clissold, the students started the drive with a celebratory ceremony in the auditorium, complete with a Red Cross banner, microphone, and hundreds of teddy bears on the stage. To kick this off, a form of "roll call" was taken; a few designated sixth grade students, each exclaiming loudly into the microphone, "Are the first graders here?" for each grade, teachers, staff and teddy bears. The audience burst out loud in response with excited cheers, when their group was called upon. Then a coulor guard flag ceremony accompanied with a drum performance took place.

As the children patiently anticipated the “stuffing” of vehicle, Red Cross Volunteer and coordinator of the drive, Bob Bushwaller, took the microphone and said a big thank you to everyone who participated in the drive and told a touching story of how children who have lost everything in a home fire, will find comfort in the donated bears.

Suddenly, the “teddy bear song” streamed out of the auditorium speakers. The energy and excitement from the kids was so powerful that it made my heart race. After distributing the bears, every student clutched a fuzzy friend and assembled in a long line leading out to the mobile disaster truck. I noticed Kelsey, a second grade student at Clissold, was crying. I asked her what was wrong. She answered with a quivering lip, "I'm just so happy we are doing this for the kids."

Students exclaimed left and right, “I’m ready for the teddy bear march!” Katie, a La Salle Academy third grader, asked me with hopeful eyes, “Does this mean that we are part of the Red Cross now?”

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