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YMCA pre-kindergarten students aim big for Fort McMurray

Guest post by Anna-Marie Robertson, Canadian Red Cross
Photos by Bob Wallace, Canadian Red Cross

Pre-Kindergarten students aimed to sell lemonade for $100 per glass to buy new houses for Fort McMurray Evacuees. 
Students at the Shirley Stollery YMCA Child Care Centre, aged 3-5 years, brought questions and ideas into their classroom after speaking with their parents about smoke in the Edmonton sky. The Fort McMurray Fire hit close to home for students when they thought about the many children without toys, and families without houses. One student’s dad is a firefighter and was dispatched to fight the fire known as “the Beast.”
One educator used to live in Fort McMurray and spoke to the 24 students about the city and how it has been affected by fire. A student said “I could smell the sky,” another adding “the smoke is because of the fire.” The conversation prompted the students to help evacuees across the province. 
Students decided they would build a lemonade stand to buy the citizens of Fort McMurray new houses. After discussion with their educators about raising money for the Red Cross, students concluded iced-tea and lemonade could be sold for $1 per glass, rather than their initial idea of $100 per glass, and wagon wheel treats for $2.

Students opened the lemonade stand for just two hours, and when asked about what was most exciting when raising funds, one student answered “everything was my favourite part.” For another student, the highlight was “cookies and giving people the money.”

Stacey McGillicuddy said her students were thrilled to be selling lemonade and interacting with their customers. 
The fundraiser, which was one hundred percent student driven, raised $302 for the Alberta Fires Appeal. Students walked down to the Canadian Red Cross office in Edmonton to present Vice-President Jenn McManus with the money. 
“For the people with knocked down houses” students explained. 
McGillicuddy says "the concept of the activity was to teach empathy in a way that relates to the children.” Educators in the Pre-Kindergarten class said they couldn’t be more proud.
The Guide to Wildfire Recovery for parents and caregivers provides additional support for those affected by the Alberta wildfires. 
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