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December 21, 2004 > Children Giving to Children Less Fortunate During the Holidays

Children Giving to Children Less Fortunate During the Holidays

by Bridgetta Bourne-Firl

Can it be too early to teach children of the goodness in giving to others who are less fortunate than them? "Not for us!" said Shari Johnston, principal of Early Childhood Education program at the California School for the Deaf (CSD). Students as young as 18-months-old have taken turns riding in a bus-like wagon going to classrooms and offices on the 90 acre campus of the CSD to collect penny contributions from teachers and other staff persons.

"Preschoolers whether they are deaf or hearing normally think of themselves first. However, preschoolers do display moments of compassion and we want to capitalize on that. The school tries to teach them by example. Teachers participate in this project as an effective way to influence preschooler's thinking," explained Ginny Malzkhuhn, family education coordinator, "There is no better learning environment than the one with hands-on activities."

The penny collection this year would go to the children at Centro Cristiano para Sordos--Bolivia Deaf Center that has been serving deaf students for 25 years. They are the only residential school for deaf students in Bolivia. Three and four-year-old students in the preschool have looked at the photos of those children and have learned that they can make a difference.

"We started the tradition of collecting pennies about four years ago during our Harvest Festival. The students have donated money to organizations such as the Heifer Project and the local Deaf Senior Citizen Center. The students experience the joy of giving and begin to learn compassion while gaining community awareness," said Johnston.

Is it too late to teach high school students to give to the needy families? "Not for us!" said Gene Harris, service learning teacher in the High School Department at the CSD. The students have been actively involved in collecting food cans that would go to Tri-City Food Bank. Also, they put out 10 collection stations throughout the campus for the toy drive. The toys would go to 47 eligible deaf families through the Deaf Counseling, Advocacy and Referral Agency (DCARA)'s Christmas giving program.

The Early Childhood Education program at the CSD, serves preschoolers through kindergarten, including infants/toddlers of the Mission Valley SELPA Program (Special Education Local Planning Area--serving Fremont, Union City, and Newark). CSD has an international reputation for its high quality educational program and for enhancing the esteem of children. CSD is a fully accredited, state-funded school for students who are deaf and hard of hearing living in northern California. Please contact the school at (510) 794-3707 for further information or visit the student-produced website

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