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Hampers of hope

Andrew Rankin
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 23, 2009

INUVIK - When one of Shana Bentley's students was having a bad day a few weeks ago, she went shopping.

She spent her own money on two bags of groceries and gifts to give away to families in need this Christmas and found her sour mood evaporated.

NNSL photo/graphic

Samuel Hearne Secondary School teacher Shana Bentley stands with her Grade 7, 8 and 9 students and some of the items they donated to the Santa Elves project, on Dec. 11. - Andrew Rankin/NNSL photo

"She told me that she felt so much better after she and her sister decided to go shopping for someone else. I said, 'wow there you go, mission accomplished,'" said Bentley, who teaches at Samuel Hearne Secondary School.

The student was one of her Grade 7, 8 and 9 students who gave generously to the Santa's Elves project, where community residents gather gifts and food for less fortunate families in Inuvik.

In one week, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7, the youths jammed four big hampers with enough food for several Christmas dinners, as well as gifts. That was far more than the one hamper Bentley was hoping to fill.

"It's really refreshing to see that spirit of generosity in our young people," she said. "There are so many things that go on at the school that sometimes it's hard to remind the kids, they forget.

But I was surprised by how many of them were gung-ho and have been encouraging each other.

I am surprised that they've taken it on so seriously."

Bentley said she proposed the idea to her students as a way for them to give back to their community.

The students were assigned to purchase specific items, and the gifts started rolling in.

Grade 9 student Caroline Kaufman said she participated in the project because every family deserves to have a great meal for Christmas along with a few presents to go under the tree.

Her Grade 9 colleague, Shayna Greenough also pitched in. Like her teacher, she said she was surprised by the generosity showed by her school mates.

"Every year there's a hamper downstairs and nothing comes in so I wasn't expecting it to work out that well," said Greenough. "I thought this year that people would forget. They didn't and I'm proud of them. I'm really surprised."

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