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Montreal students’ handmade dolls to be donated to refugee children worldwide

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WATCH: A group of students at a Montreal-area elementary school has taken on a project to help make a difference in the lives of other children their age. Not only has the exercise taught them a life skill, they say they've also learned how lucky they are. Global’s Phil Carpenter reports – May 10, 2022

A group of Grade 6 students at Westmount Park Elementary School has taken on a project to help make a difference in the lives of other children their age.

For weeks they’ve been busy making stuffed teddy bears, part of a class project to help the pupils learn about social and global affairs.

Read more: Montreal public art piece pays tribute to Ukrainian traditions

“Well, we’re trying to make as many bears as we can to send them to refugee kids around the world,” explained 12 year-old Mais Aboasali, “so we can bring a little joy to the already chaotic life they have.”

Her teacher, Sabrina Pianese, came up with the idea after reading Refugee, an historical novel about three 12-year-olds living through conflict, including one living through the Holocaust and another in Cuba.

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“The last one, which was the one which spoke to the most students in this class, was [in] the 2015 Syrian civil war,” she said.

Refugee was assigned reading for the class.

Aboasali, who’s of Syrian descent, pointed out that the book resonated with her, because her family often speaks about friends in Syria living through the decade-long civil war.

“I’ve heard stories about them that they tried to flee the country,” she told Global News.

The book also meant a lot to Zachary Agulnik, 12, because of the Holocaust.

“I told my bubbe about this project we’re doing,” he stated, “and I thought she’d probably like to help.”

He said his “bubbe,” Yiddish for grandmother, made 16.

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By mid-May the toys will be sent to Dolls of Hope, an American organization based in Utah through which dolls are sent to refugee kids all over the world.

“It changes everything for a little child to give them a toy and to give them something again that’s their own,” founder Sarah Parson pointed out.

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Pianese’s plan was to have just 50 toys made.  On Tuesday they had already made 92.

“I have a feeling we’ll be maybe 120,” she laughed.

According to Parson many of those toys could end up in Poland to for child refugees from Ukraine.

Wherever they go, the kids at Westmount Park feel they did their duty to help.

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