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Published Thursday, December 21, 2000

Christmas cards help terminally ill children

By Theresa Harrington

Staff writer

Third-graders at Bancroft Elementary School in Walnut Creek recently learned how to work together to accomplish a goal.

As part of the state's new third-grade social studies curriculum, the students formed a make-believe company called "Helping 2000." They created about 5,500 Christmas cards, sold them, and donated their profits to an organization called "Comfort for Kids," which helps children with life-threatening illnesses.

Students brought home sales packets with samples of four card designs: a mitten, snowflake, Christmas tree and gingerbread boy.

Between Nov. 20 and Dec. 15, children in all five of the school's third-grade classes worked folding, cutting, gluing, assembling and packaging the cards.

Teachers Jane Voll, Toni Wolfe, Betsy Haberman, Peggy Grunert and Susan Spalding used the project to educate children about how businesses operate, from making a product to distributing it. Concepts such as managing supply and demand and quality control were also explored.

"We inspected the cards each night," said Voll. "I'm donating the usable rejects to a convalescent home."

Morgan Owen, 8, said she liked learning how a store works.

"We all got to do different things," she said, "but we all folded cards and glued the stuff on."

Nelson Graphics provided 5,500 envelopes at cost. Most of the supplies, such as construction paper and a die-cut machine, were provided by the school. Students sold the cards in sets of four for $1 a set.

The classes created a ledger, counted the money collected and deducted the expenses. Then, on Dec. 15, they presented representatives from Comfort for Kids with a check for $1,072.

The children had been given a choice of three charities, said Voll, but they overwhelmingly chose Comfort for Kids after hearing that a former Bancroft student, Christina Bernardy, was being helped by the organization.

"They wanted to help other kids," said Voll.

Christina, who also attended Oak Grove Middle School in Concord, died of liver cancer Nov. 11. She was 13.

Many Bancroft Elementary School teachers attended her memorial service.

"It was an excellent school with very caring teachers," said Pedro Bernardy, Christina's father. "They thought a lot of Christina."

Bernardy said the Comfort for Kids organization helped treat Christina at home and assisted the family and medical staff when she went to the hospital. The organization also provided hospice care for Christina and her family.

"We paid nothing at all to the Comfort for Kids folks," said Bernardy. "Their primary compensation comes from donations."

He commended the Bancroft students for their hard work and their donation in Christina's memory.

"It was an excellent thought and very much appreciated," he said.


For more information about Comfort for Kids, call 925-609-1849.




1999 Contra Costa Newspapers, Inc.