Canadian Armed Forces members receive a taste of home at Christmastime thanks to student efforts

“Merry Christmas from Manitoulin!” The Grade 3/4 class at Assiginack Public School are shown with five of the 11 boxes they packed and shipped on November 19 filled with many different items for Canadian Armed Forces personnel in Latvia, Senegal, the Ukraine and aboard HMCS Halifax, as part of the OP Troop Support Project.

MANITOWANING—Students at Assiginack Public School (APS) have made the lives of those serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) a little brighter at this time of year, when they are not able to be at home with their families at Christmas.

“We have 18 students in my Grade 3-4 class and we had sent Flat Stanleys to 18 Canada troops in Canada and one stationed in Australia, starting in October,” said Heather Jefkins, teacher at APS, last Friday. “Then we took part in the OP Troop Support project, something I’ve participated in since 2006. This year our class supported six CAF members, one in Senegal, two serving in Latvia, two in the Ukraine and one aboard the HMCS Halifax.”

Through the OP Troop Support Project, those serving for Canada “will receive a taste of home this holiday season,” Mrs. Jefkins told the Recorder. She pointed out the thank you letter that has been sent to all those who donated toward the project reads in part, “every year since 2006, Island businesses, service groups and community members always make sure that we can send a big “Merry Christmas from Manitoulin” across the miles. Thank you for being part of this tradition.”

“In each box there are many, many items, including such items as cookies, crackers, Manitoulin coffee, Manitoulin maple syrup, tons of Halloween candy, and as we had received a special request (from the troops), a puzzle in each box,” said Ms. Jefkins. “Each box has a Sudoku book, hot chocolate, chocolate, Christmas cards and special holiday art made by the students, granola bars, trail mix, individually wrapped candies and much more.”

“We were supported by the Lyons Memorial United Church Women in Gore Bay, with a financial donation to purchase top-up items for each box, Manitowaning Guardian Pharmacy, which provided Halloween candy, the Manitoulin Coffee Co. with provided coffee, Pike Lake Farms with Manitoulin-made maple syrup and the students and families of Assiginack Public School who provide donations too numerous to count,” said Ms. Jefkins.

“We sent the boxes out in mid-November and boxes began arriving to the troops after that,” continued Ms. Jefkins. She explained, “we received word from one of the fellows in the Ukraine that he had shared his box full of items with 20 other people he works with.”

“The feedback that we receive every year from the CAF members is that they always share what they have received, and that they have the opportunity to put a smile on the face of other CAF troops and provide a treat from home,” added Ms. Jefkins.