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A lesson in holiday cheer

Posted: December 19, 2008 9:56 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2008 4:59 a.m.

Los Angeles County firefighter Scott Robinson helps Reed Crane, 4, into a firefighter's suit during a tour of the Stevenson Ranch station Friday morning.

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Temple Beth Ami's youngest preschool students are learning an important lesson early in life.

"(We're) trying to teach the children there's more to life than just themselves," said preschool teacher Sandra Hirsch.

This fall started with a clothing- and food-collection drive, culminating with a toy drop-off at a Stevenson Ranch fire station Friday.

The young pupils learned about the importance of giving in a season that emphasizes sharing with one another.

But the lesson doesn't stop at holiday break when the school will close to celebrate Hanukkah. Preschool Director Sherrie Zadok said the idea is to teach giving to the kids as a lifestyle choice.

Teachers at Barbara Friedell Early Childhood Education Center use different methods to teach the subject of sharing to their students throughout the year.

"We are in a season where we are so busy saying ‘gimme gimme gimme.' We are teaching our kids to be giving back," Zadok said.

Preschoolers and their families collected the food and clothing first.

The items were given to a shelter and a food pantry, she said.

The toys were collected for Toys for Tots, collected at Fire Station 124 in Stevenson Ranch.

Eight four- and five-year-olds, accompanied by their parents, enjoyed a field trip on Friday at the fire station, were given a tour and learned how to make another child's holiday happy.

"We start talking to them at this age and they understand there are children who don't have toys to play with," Zadok said. "Going to the station was really nice. The kids got to tour the station and hand-put the toys in so they could see personally what they were doing."

The school also asks the students to collect spare change year 'round. In the future, administrators will total the donations students gather and allow the children to donate them to another charity organization, she said.

Hirsch said her students have a lot of chances to interact with the theme of giving. Her classroom features a Giving Tree.

"(The kids) have little notes they can take home, and when they help out friends or family, the parents write it down and we read the mitzvahs (a good deed) in class and share what they did. Then we hang the midot (note) on the tree."

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