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Haw Creek fifth-graders turned their usual holiday luncheon into a chance to help kids with cancer
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Haw Creek Elementary School fifth-grade students turned their annual holiday luncheon into a service project to make cards and gifts for area childhood cancer patients. (Photo courtesy Claire Smith)

Haw Creek Elementary School’s fifth-graders have made it a tradition to head into the holiday break with a celebratory luncheon.

This year, the school turned it into a chance for the students to help a good cause.

The fifth-graders made about 80 fleece scarves, 125 wooden inspirational signs and more than 200 holiday cards and sent them to CURE Childhood Cancer, a nonprofit in Atlanta that is dedicated to ending childhood cancer through funding research while providing support services to the families of children with cancer.

According to Claire Smith, the Haw Creek fifth-grade committee chair, the school was inspired by the experiences of a few students who have cancer or recently did and benefited from some of the services provided by CURE. Smith said one Haw Creek third-grader has been diagnosed with cancer twice, and the family made a video detailing the impact CURE had during their tumultuous time.

“It really hit home for the kids,” Smith said.

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Haw Creek Elementary School fifth-grade students pose for a picture with principal June Tribble, center, at their annual holiday luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. (Photo courtesy Claire Smith)

On Friday, Dec. 14, the fifth-graders watched the video and made the holiday cards. Then Wednesday the group followed its usual luncheon with a craft session to make the scarves and inspirational signs, which had words like “Fight,” “Believe,” “Hope” and “Love” in bold or scripted letters. Smith said the third-grader’s family plans to deliver the cards, scarves and signs to CURE, which will then distribute them to childhood cancer patients in the area.

Smith was most impressed with how engaged the students were with the project.

“When they were doing the cards, the boys were not just writing small (notes), they were writing huge, long letters to these children, that they will never know, fighting cancer,” Smith said. “To see that and the time and effort the kids were putting into these cards was unbelievable. They were almost fighting for a spot to get to the craft table to make those wood signs and scarves.”

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Haw Creek Elementary School fifth-graders made about 80 scarves and 125 wooden inspirational signs for childhood cancer patients in the Atlanta area to be distributed by the CURE Childhood Cancer organization. (photo courtesy Claire Smith)

Smith said the project was also a chance for Haw Creek to instill in the students one of the “7 Mindsets,” a group of core principles that are the basis for a program developed in 2008 and implemented by Forsyth County Schools to address its students’ social and emotional issues along with character development. Haw Creek’s project addressed the principle of “Live to Give.”

Smith sensed that the concept sunk in for the students. She said one student was inspired to make blankets for childhood cancer patients on her own during the week.

“That’s huge,” Smith said.

In a few months, Haw Creek’s fifth-graders will be middle schoolers, and Smith won’t be the grade’s committee chair anymore, but she’s convinced this year’s luncheon project will be hallmark of the school year for generations of fifth-graders to come.

“We want to make these kids better before they move on to middle school,” Smith said.