Primary students give up gift exchange to help poverty-stricken kids in Africa

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Putting our priorities in order often comes from the wisdom of children and that is true in the case of kids at the Spring Street Academy in Amherst.

AMHERST - Putting our priorities in order often comes from the wisdom of children and that is true in the case of kids at the Spring Street Academy in Amherst.

Primary students recently decided to step up to the plate and forgo their Christmas gift exchange and instead donate the money towards malaria prevention nets for kids in Africa.

"Mrs. Gillis' and Mme. Morrison's primary classes decided to purchase the bed nets for children in Africa," Angela Lohnes, Home Partners Assistant for the Red Cross in Amherst said. "Within those two classes they were able to save 32 lives."

The two classes raised a total of $224.00, enough money for 32 mosquito nets.

"Each net cost $7," Lohnes said. "That seven dollars covers the cost of the net, the cost of transporting the net to its destination, the cost of educating the parents and the children on how the net works and the cost of doing a follow up as well."

Lohnes also has a personal connection to the Spring Street Academy donation. Her son Joshua, who is now in grade one at the Academy, was in Mrs. Gillis' class last year.

"He always talked about how mommy works at the Red Cross and how we help people who have had a house fire or how we give people crutches if they break a leg," Lohnes said. "So I guess it must of stuck in people's heads and on the last day of school before Christmas Mrs. Gillis called and said they have a collection they would like to donate to the local Red Cross for the malaria nets campaign."

Lohnes said the kids were ecstatic knowing they were helping other children and that Joshua was, "quite tickled at how he knew they were going to be helping the Red Cross."

Kids weren't the only one who stepped up to the plate.

"On a local level, with individuals in the community, we have raised well over $1,500.00 for bed nets in Amherst alone," Lohnes said.

Also, when schools become active in January, Lohnes said volunteers will be out in the school system doing a full mosquito net presentation for students.

"Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria," Lohnes said. "So we're really doing what we can to get the word out."

Organizations: Red Cross, Street Academy, Home Partners Assistant

Geographic location: Africa, AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • Dan Bedell,
    January 18, 2010 - 11:16

    Thanks for publishing this touching story about these young students and their teachers at Spring St. Academy.

    For additional information on the Canadian Red Cross program that distributes life-saving bed nets to protect children in Africa from malaria, and how anyone can donate just $7 to pay for a net, visit the Red Cross website at

  • Barbara
    January 18, 2010 - 11:09

    A lot of classes/grades at Spring Street Academy forgo gifts at Christmas, and donate instead. I think it's a great thing, and one that should catch on. Teaching the children that there are people in the world that need their help is important.