The students of two independent elementary schools in Richmond—the Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy and the Richmond Jewish Day School—embarked on a project together to bring cheer to those in need.
The concept of giving back is shared by these faiths, which initially brought the schools together five years ago.
This year, their effort entailed packaging 742 lunches and distributing them to the residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
They also provided warm clothes, blankets, and non-perishable food items to those living in one of the most impoverished areas in the city.
As one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, the Downtown Eastside is rampant with poverty, drugs, prostitution and other troubling activities.
Nate Brown and Tali Keil, students of the Richmond Jewish Day School, explained their experience as eye-opening, and full of emotion.
Being amongst the homeless and hearing about their stories, some who have spent most of their lives on the streets, brought a sense of gratitude to those involved with this project.
Oscar Pozzolo, the principal of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy said his students were able to “understand the realities of what’s out in the world in terms of hardships and struggles that some Canadians are facing.”
He shared how the feeling of wanting to help became so overpowering amongst students and teachers alike.
The immediate impact seen on the lives of the less fortunate allowed for a meaningful experience, he said.
Employees from an Aboriginal art store came out and preformed a thank-you song for the students, to express their gratitude for the work being done for the betterment of their community.
This initiative alone took countless hours of preparation from a variety of groups.
The RCMP escorted the school bus all the way from Richmond, while the Vancouver Police Department remained on site for the safety of the students.
This project is one that the two neighbouring schools plan to continue throughout the years to promote social responsibility and charity, so that the young minds are encouraged to give selflessly in all stages and aspects of their lives.