Camp Kinser kids deck the halls with caring wishes
CAMP KINSER, Okinawa — Kinser kids care: It’s a phrase heard regularly from staff members at Kinser Elementary school and a tradition pupils continued this week as they hung more than 500 ornaments adorned with Christmas wishes in the school’s entrance.
But what makes these wishes special is that not one of them is for the child who wrote it. They all are intended for others — mostly people the children don’t even know.
The students spent the last week writing the wishes after the student council went to each classroom asking them to participate, said Laura Stoller, a fourth-grade teacher at the school. She said the idea started with the school’s principal, Ian Coubrough. He asked her if the students would want to do it, and she asked the student council to help gets the student body in the giving spirit.
“We were excited,” said fifth-grader Jeffrey Black, 10, the student council president. “The most exciting part was going to the classes and talking to the students … especially the kindergarten classes. They all started jumping up and down they were so excited.”
The messages were written on pieces of colored paper shaped like small gingerbread men, snowmen, lights, candy canes, Christmas trees and bells. Strung together by ribbons, they’re hung on walls and ceilings by the office and on a Christmas tree in the entrance.
Black said his wish is that his family will have a great Christmas and that his sister will get everything she wanted.
Among the other wishes: “I wish everyone at least gets one present under their tree,” “I wish my cousin would get better” and “I wish the poor kids could have more food.”
Randi Meyer, a 9-year-old fourth grader, said she wished that every orphan could get the gifts he or she wanted. She said writing the message helped her feel like she was spreading holiday cheer by thinking about others.
“It came from my heart,” she said.
Stoller said one of the wishes she liked most was that for a father to return home from Iraq this Christmas to be with his family.
For Kinser students to think about others is nothing new, Stoller said. In the last year they’ve raised thousands of dollars for tsunami and hurricane victims.
“We as adults know the importance (of caring for others) and we encourage the students,” she said of her fellow staff members. “The student council is a good group of leaders and they get the other kids excited about whatever it is. It’s so nice for them to step back and think about other people … it’s not a problem for them.”