Zachary Jeffares and students at Chalmers Elelmentary in North Delta have collected more than $1,400 in coins in one week to help the kids in Burns Lake whose families were affected by the mill explosion. Their teacher once taught in the community and has relatives there. They count and roll coins on Wednesday, February 8, 2012.
Photograph by: Glenn Baglo, PNG
North Delta Chalmers Elementary students are learning pocket change can make real change.
Concerned about the tragedy that befell Burns Lake on Jan. 20, when a sawmill exploded killing two and injuring 18, the school’s 400 students have raised $1,477 in coins to help children at the town’s William Konkin Elementary.
As students counted thousands of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters into piles, they shared their sweet dreams for how the money could help the town.
“We are raising money for the children in Burns Lake so we can bring them breakfast and pancakes,” eight-year-old Zachary Jeffares said as he counted nickels.
“I like to help people that are sick or hurt. I care for them,” said the Grade 4 student.
“The thing blew up and now all the people have lost their work and that’s why we are giving them money, so they can get the work again and start another mill,” said seven-year-old Grade 2 student Dylan Bender, who was crouched on the floor counting pennies out loud.
Grade 7 student Kiran Bangar, a member of the school’s leadership group that ran the coin drive, emptied her piggy bank and gave $10.
“They are children like us so they need help, too. I think the people in Burns Lake will be happy. I hope that everything is going to be better,” said the 12-year-old.
Grade 6 student Sahibjot Daula designed the card the school is sending to Burns Lake. On it, he drew a the mill burning and residents splashing buckets of hope, love, strength and care on it.
He donated $50 in coins from his saved allowance to the cause.
“Don’t lose your hope because everything is going to turn out good, because you guys didn’t do anything bad so nothing bad will happen to you,” he said.
The effort was launched by Chalmers special education teacher Laura Masini Pieralli.
She taught for a few years at William Konkin between 2003 and 2005. So when the explosion occurred at Babine Forest Products sawmill, she knew what a devastating impact it would have — 250 residents were directly employed by the mill and another 100 worked as subcontractors.
“Because it’s a single-industry town, essentially it’s impossible for it not to have affected everybody. I felt really compelled to do something to show that we cared,” said Masini Pieralli.
“I get teary-eyed because their kindness is so overwhelming and so genuine,” she said of the student response. “They genuinely want to show the world that they care.”
The staff at William Konkin have been moved by their efforts, and teacher Dave Beck sent a message thanking Chalmers students, “for your support and interest in the well-being of our students as we all strive to move forward after this community disaster.”
Meanwhile, the RCMP and WorkSafe B.C. continue to investigate the cause of the blaze. Fundraising is ongoing and more than $30,000 has been raised to date for the Lakes District Tragedy Fund. Donations can be made at any Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Branch in B.C. or Canada or online at rotaryburnslake.org.
© Copyright (c) The Province