AMHERST - Spring Street Academy Grade Primary students are giving the gift of saving lives this holiday season rather than their traditional gift exchange.
Notices went out to Primary parents from two Grade Primary classes asking parents to send $2.50, half of the money that would be used in the gift exchange to be used in purchasing bed nets to provide protection from mosquitoes carrying malaria to children in underdeveloped countries.
The other half of money used in the gift exchange will be used to purchase a small gift for each primary student providing them with a small gift during the classes Christmas parties.
"The money will be given to the Canadian Red Cross who provide the nets for $7 each. This is a way we are teaching our primaries to help out others less fortunate than ourselves," primary teacher Dianne Gillis said.
Both primary classes, Gillis' and Sarah Crocker's were on hand yesterday (Tuesday) to make the charitable donation to Red Cross worker Angie Lohnes and Canada World Youth participants Sonia Charran and Monalisa Pasaribu.
Charran and Pasaribu spoke to the kids about how people get malaria (through mosquito bites) and how to prevent it (by sleeping under the protection of the bed nets).
"Every 30 seconds a child in Africa is dying from malaria," Charran said.
Malaria is preventable and treatable but currently threatens more than 40 per cent of the world's population.
After showing the primary students on a globe where Africa is, the two Canada World Youth members showed the kids where they where from. Charran from Winnipeg and Pasaribu from Indonesia the two explained to the students that they will soon be headed to Indonesia for three months where they themselves will be using bed nets while sleeping.
The $7 cost of each bed net goes further than just providing the nets. The donation also provides measles vaccination for the child, de-worming medication, vitamin A supplement to help boost their immune systems, education on how to use the net properly and a follow-up visit to the families' home after the distribution to ensure the nets are being used properly and also to answer any questions the families may have.
The children will receive gift cards to indicate the purchase of the nets have been made in their honour.
"Anyone wishing to make the $7 donation towards a bed net can do so by dropping by the Red Cross at 16 Church Street, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm," Lohnes said.