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Kindergartners learn about community service one bear at a time | Community Spirit

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Kindergartners learn about community service one bear at a time
Kindergartners learn about community service one bear at a time

Kindergarten students from Chester Elementary made a trip to the Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Spokane Valley Mall this morning. Instead of taking their new fluffy friends home, they donated them to children staying at the Ronald McDonald House.


The excursion was made possible by an Eastern Washington Community Outreach Program Grant. The COP Grants are given for up to $1,500 to cover the cost of service projects that build relationships between students, schools and the community at large. This is the fourth time that kindergarten teacher Denise Kennedy has applied for and been given a COP Grant.


In years past, Kennedy and her kindergarten class have made fleece blankets to give to families at the Ronald McDonald House. Last year she asked what was needed and found out that a lot of the children forget to bring comfort items, like teddy bears, with them. Because of weakened immune systems, the RMCH children can't accept used bears that could carry allergens and life-threatening germs. So the kids from Chester make them new ones to enjoy.


“It's just nice to have something new to come home to,” says Kennedy.


The kindergarteners were excited to give away their newly stuffed teddy bears, and they knew from the start that the bears wouldn't be theirs to keep.


“We really honed in on the community piece,” explains Kennedy. In the weeks prior to the event she asked routinely asked the kids why they would be making the bears only to give them away. The children's response? Because it would make their hearts happy.


A group of 14 parents joined the class today, Julene Osborn says her six year old daughter has been excited for weeks. Osborn wanted to share the experience with her.


“How many opportunities does a six-year-old have to do something nice that's hands on for someone else?”, Osborn says it gave her daughter a chance to think about ways she can help other people.


The service project spanned school wide. Letters were sent home with older grade asking for snack and juice box donations to stock the RMCH pantry.


Kennedy was looking for ways to expand the impact, “I have this huge captive audience at Chester, how can I get everyone involved?”


The school was able to not only gather boxes of snacks, but they have also been collecting soda can tabs. The tab collection has been a RMCH fund raiser for years, they are able to turn the tabs in for cash at the recycling center and employees at they house say you'd be surprised at how much they bring in.


After carefully adorning the new bears with bows and wrapping them up with ribbons, the Chester kindergarten class delivered them to the Ronald McDonald House. The were able to eat their lunch and have a tour of the home so they would understand where the bears were going and why they would be so special to other children.  

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