TRURO - All Tammi Hepworth did was present her class with an opportunity. It was the students who took it and ran.
The Child Studies 11 class at Cobequid Educational Centre is on a mission to help a Colchester County family as a three-year-old girl named Madelyn embarks on a two-and-a-half-year battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
"We're trying to raise money for her and help her family out because she lives in Truro and is travelling back and forth to the IWK for treatment," Kayla Fancy, a 16-year-old McCallum Settlement resident, said. "Everybody in the class stepped up and said this is what we want to do and everyone is 100 per cent on board."
The students will be passing out hot chocolate from Tim Hortons in exchange for donations to the cause at Friday's tree lighting ceremony at Civic Square and Saturday's Santa Claus parade.
But that's just the start of their quest. The nearly 50 students are also canvassing businesses for any support they can provide and are coming up with ideas for a silent auction, youth entertainment night and several others to help the family, which has asked not to be identified.
Hepworth, herself, knows exactly what the family is feeling. Her own daughter, Jessie, has cystic fibrosis, which requires regular checkups and sometimes long stays at the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax. Such trips require money for gas, meals, hotel stays and parking, among other costs that quickly can get out of control.
"It's hard enough to have a child who is sick," Hepworth said. "But to have financial problems on top of that, that's where we are coming from."
The idea was formed as the class was studying a unit on childhood diseases. After listening to a recent release by Taylor Swift called Rowan, about a little boy who dies from cancer, the students were inspired to do something to help.
"At the end we were all hugging each other and crying," Hepworth said. "So we started looking for someone to help and a student from another class heard about it and told us about Madelyn."
Aside from helping a family in need, Hepworth said the effort is an invaluable life-learning tool for the students by giving them a real-world look at the effects of a helping hand.
"I can tell them about childhood diseases, I can sit there and lecture and show them pictures or whatever but when they actually see it and make that connection and get involved, hopefully the experience will have such a positive impact on them that they'll continue to be volunteers for the rest of their lives to be giving and open their hearts later on down the road," Hepworth said.