Students help send a little bit of home to troops overseas

  • December 23, 2010
St. Jane Frances Catholic SchoolTORONTO - When 13-year-old Calvin Asare of St. Jane Frances Catholic School wrote a Christmas letter thanking Canadian soldiers for serving in Afghanistan, he was also thinking of the day when he might one day wear the same uniform.

Asare was one of 5,000 Toronto school students who prepared Christmas cards and boxes of homemade cookies for the soldiers and attended a Dec. 16 ceremony handing over Christmas gifts at the Toronto Emergency Medical Services (EMS) headquarters on Dufferin Street.

Asare, a Grade 7 student, recently joined the army cadets and told The Catholic Register he would like to don a uniform and serve his country, too.

“I wrote that I’m very glad they’ve been doing this. You’re risking your life. It’s very generous of them,” he said. “And they’re away from their family.”

Asare said when he joined the cadets, he heard the stories of soldiers which piqued his “interest to help.”

His French teacher, Linda Pletzer, organized the school-wide letter-writing and cookie-baking at St. Jane Frances School. (She also baked dozens of cinnamon cookies for the troops.)

Pletzer, a former reservist with the service battalion in Quebec and the Toronto Scottish Regiment, said students were interested in learning more about veterans of the First and Second World Wars. She suggested to students that they would also benefit from remembering those who are still serving in the military in different parts of the world today, including Afghanistan.

Soldiers, she said, are “passing on our values of peace and helping others.”

About eight Canadian Forces soldiers, some of whom served in Afghanistan, were guests of honour at the ceremony. They said they appreciate the students’ gifts.

Sgt. Jordan Murray just returned on Dec. 1 from his second tour of Afghanistan. He said the letters he received from Canadians across the country, including students, reminded him of home, especially during Christmas time.

“It lets you remember why you are (there),” he said.

Meanwhile, EMS Chief Bruce Farr told about 100 people at the ceremony that the event was also an occasion to remember the 154 soldiers “who made the ultimate sacrifice and coming home for the last time on the Highway of Heroes.”

Tim Hortons also contributed to the Christmas package with a $10 gift card for troops redeemable at the Tim’s in Kandahar through its “Share A Cup With A Brave Canuck” event.

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