Everett fifth-graders’ ornaments provide a lesson in philanthropy

No 2-year-old would know the name of the colorfully decorated, 20-sided Christmas ornaments they were given Thursday, but boy, did they like them.

“He wanted to touch it,” Angie Sievers of Everett said of her 2 1/2-year-old son, Cole. “He thought he was going to throw it.”

The ornaments, officially called by their geometric name of icosahedron, were made out of Christmas cards and construction paper. They were handed out Thursday to toddlers at Providence Children’s Center by fifth-graders from Everett’s Jackson Elementary School — a class project in philanthropy, inspired by the Imagine Children’s Museum.

Each November, museum volunteers visit classrooms in elementary schools throughout Snohomish County, hoping to encourage classes to take on a project that benefit others.

“They sent out a volunteer who read a book to us,” said Claire Baker, the Jackson teacher whose class took on the ornament project.

The story was of a child in Africa whose mom needed a bicycle. People from his village joined the youngster in helping him meet his goal.

“What it’s doing is teaching kids the meaning of the word philanthropy, giving time and talent … to help others in need,” she said.

Baker asked her students to come up with a list of projects they might take on.

“We had to come up with a plan,” explained Aislinn Hall, 11. She worked with Sarah Kelly, a friend since kindergarten, to research what organizations might have needs and what the class might do to help.

Ultimately, the class voted to make Christmas decorations for youngsters at Providence Children’s Center, who are being treated for neurodevelopmental disorders.

These can include short-term problems such as infants who have an abnormal tilting of the head at birth, which can be corrected with about six weeks of physical therapy, said Christie Tipton, who manages the children’s center.

Or they can include more serious ongoing medical issues, such as Down syndrome, autism, babies who have had strokes, or those who have problems eating and gaining weight.

“It was really fun knowing we could help,” Aislinn said.

The Christmas ornaments took about two hours to make, Sarah said. Students cut out designs from Christmas cards to paste to the multisided ornaments. “We had some really pretty designs,” she said.

The class brought 125 of the ornaments in two boxes, toting them down the hill from their school on Rucker Hill to the children’s center on the Pacific Campus of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Some went to the half-dozen 12- to 24-month old kids in a playroom at the children’s center on Thursday morning. Others decorated a nearby Christmas tree so that other children and families coming to the center would have their own keepsake.

Aislinn and Sarah said they thought there could be a lesson for other students from their class project.

“If you put your heart into something, you care about you can make a difference,” Aislinn said. “It’s great going back to school with a story I’m proud to share with other students and teachers.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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