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SSIS Community Supports Local Community School

December, 2014
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With the cold weather well and truly here the SSIS (Suzhou Singapore International School) community participated in The Giving Tree, a voluntary project that provides warm clothing and a small gift for children living in Suzhou who are less fortunate.

The Giving Tree is coordinated by the Community Center Shanghai. It started in 2003 with the objective to provide the children with warm clothing and items for school success, plus a gift. By showing generosity to these children, the organization hopes they can later in life pay it forward. Since 2003 80,000 children have received a Giving Tree bag. This is the first year that the project has come to Suzhou.

ssis-suzhou-giving-tree-4In total, 817 Giving Tree bags were donated by the SSIS community with 798 children and 22 teachers from the Songnan Center School each receiving personalized items. Donors received simple information about an individual student or teacher. This information helped them to fill their Giving Tree bag with a school stationary kit, a toy or small gift, hats, gloves, scarf sets, warm piece of clothing such as a jacket, a story or educational Chinese book and a simple back pack suitable for each child or teacher at the school. In total, each gift bag was worth approximately RMB 200-250.

The SSIS community collected approximately RMB 93,000 for the Songnan Center School through the annual Charity Run held in October, and sponsorship and cash donations which helped to fill many of the bags. The remaining bags were filled by individual families.

SSIS aims to provide opportunities for students and their families to participate directly in making a difference to our local, national and global communities. Creativity, Action and Service coordinator at SSIS, Allison Parratt, feels that the Giving Tree project is one that allows students to build leadership and organizational skills while having the heartwarming experience of directly giving to the local children through a special ceremony with a cultural exchange.

Laura Daly, a Grade 11 student, is actively involved in service activities at school. She believes it is important to see the community that the children at Songnan Centre School live in, and knowing they don’t have heat in their classrooms made her feel more appreciative for what she has.

“It is a life changing experience,” said Laura. “There was one girl in the class who opened her bag and I have never seen someone look so happy before. Just to know that I was a part of something that made a difference to all of those kids’ lives and just seeing it on that girls face is something that I think I will carry with me for a very long time.”

The Giving Tree ceremony was a day that lead teacher Lina Farrow will not forget. “It was very sweet to see the faces of the children. At the giving ceremony, I thought that the children would be most excited about the toy but they were equally excited about the stationery and book,” she said: “I feel that the students at SSIS gained ‘perspective’ of the magnitude of the project and the amount of time and work required to be successful. Being involved in a project like this allowed the students to see that they can truly make a difference, and hopefully they can inspire others to do the same.” 


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