THUNDER BAY – Students from Hammarskjold High School are applying what they’ve learned this year to brighten Christmas for local families. Several classes at the school collaborated to produce 60 toy cribs for the Christmas Cheer Fund.
Teacher Robert Dasey’s Grade 11/12 woodworking class did the bulk of the construction work on the project, while other classes helped paint the cribs with unique designs. Many are decorated with pictures of animals or characters from popular children’s shows or movies.
Dasey, a construction technologies teacher at the school, has been leading students through the project for over a decade. He says it’s a good way to pick up basic woodworking skills while giving back to the community.
“With a project like this, there’s just a massive amount of cutting, sanding, and finishing,” he says. “It’s a different way to tie students into working with the community for people less fortunate than themselves.”
Dasey says the Christmas Cheer campaign often looks to donate the cribs to families with multiple children, since their sturdy design makes them long-lasting toys. There is a quality-control process after the students finish the cribs to ensure they are safe for play.
Grade 11 student Erica Artist hadn’t done any woodworking before taking Dacey’s class. As well as working on construction, she painted five of the crib designs. “I mostly did stuff that I really liked as a kid, and I would hope that they would like it too,” she explains.
Her classmate Alex Pineau let others like Artist take the lead on designs, and focused on construction. He had some experience through construction classes in earlier grades.
Growing up with an older sister, he says he remembers having similar toys around the house. For him, the project was a chance to help others enjoy the same experience. “I think it’s just important to help out people who are a little bit less fortunate than you.”
Artist agrees: “You give everyone the same opportunity you got.”
The school community also raised hundreds of food and toy items for Christmas Cheer. The donations are particularly important this year, with campaign organizers saying donations from the public have been slow this year.
Last year, the Christmas Cheer Fund gave out more than 8,000 hampers to local families. Those interested in donating can learn more at thunderbaychristmascheer.com.