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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 1, September 2004

Gifts from the Heart

Gifts from the Heart: 450 Simple Ways To Make Your Family’s Christmas More Meaningful is by Virginia Brucker, a BCTF member who is a primary teacher at Nanoose Bay Elementary School, on Vancouver Island. Her project was inspired by the loss of four parents and a school secretary to cancer at her small school. Now a Canadian bestseller, Brucker’s book has raised $84,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society and an additional $110,000 for the service clubs and other groups that have also benefited from sales.

Although Gifts from the Heart is about Christmas, it is really about building character and community. What traditions would be meaningful for our students as well as our own children? How can we create lasting, loving, memories? Gifts from the Heart encourages not-so-random acts of Christmas kindness. Many of the ideas can be used throughout the year.

Kindergarten through high-school teachers will find dozens of inexpensive, kid-friendly ideas that help students develop social responsibility. Chapters include simple volunteer and craft projects that help students of all ages connect with family and community members. Suggestions encourage "the gift of gratitude" and offset "the gimmies." One chapter offers ideas for an environmentally friendly holiday, one offers ideas for celebrating with good books, and another offers suggestions for helping seniors. "Christmas and Divorce" has thoughtful suggestions for divorced or blended families. "Comfort and Joy" provides sensitive suggestions for helping families that have experienced loss or critical illness. Interspersed throughout this 228-page book are inspirational quotations, recipes, craft projects, and samples of children’s artwork and writing.

"Educating children’s hearts is as important as educating their minds," says Brucker. "There are so many ways to integrate emotional literacy and service to others with the curriculum. Our goal as educators is to help children grow up to be thoughtful, caring, connected adults."

You can see sample chapters and read more about this book on www3.telus.net/webelieve/. Single copies are available for $20 (includes shipping and handling).

Contact Virginia Brucker at vlbrucker@telus.net, or call 250-468-9888.

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