Walnut Grove Secondary students who are collecting winter clothing for the school’s Warm Hands Warm Hearts initiative, and gifts orientated for youth for the Langley Christmas Bureau, gathered for a photo at the school recently. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Walnut Grove Secondary students who are collecting winter clothing for the school’s Warm Hands Warm Hearts initiative, and gifts orientated for youth for the Langley Christmas Bureau, gathered for a photo at the school recently. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Walnut Grove Secondary’s Christmas giving list long

Programs include outfitting homeless with winter wear, buying gifts for teens

There are some big hearts inside Langley’s largest public high school.

Walnut Grove Secondary, with a student population of just under 2,000, is taking on a number of community-minded initiatives with Christmas fast approaching.

Among them:

• students are collecting food and gift items for Langley Christmas Bureau hampers;

• students are accepting gently used toques, mittens, jackets, and scarves for the Warm Hands Warm Hearts program, with donations earmarked for Langley’s homeless;

• the school’s Humanitarian Club is specifically collecting “youth” presents for Langley Christmas hampers as part of the Langley youth homelessness initiative.

• Humanitarian Club students are collecting school supplies and tiny items for the Operation Christmas Child boxes that are shipped to children in developing countries.

• Another Humanitarian Club initiative sees the students selling “10,000 Villages” and “Heart for Africa” Fair Trade ornaments, jewelry, chocolate, and tea;

• on Wednesday, Dec. 6 Humanitarian Club students served a large community meal at Langley Vineyard Church; and

• on Monday, Dec. 11, Humanitarian Club students visited seniors at the Langley Gardens retirement home.

The Warm Hands Warm Hearts program has been running at WGSS for well over a decade,

“Our students care a lot about the community and what’s happening in the school and outside of the school,” said Joan McGivern, the ISP co-ordinator and ELL department head at the school. “They see there is a need for help and for aid. It always surprises me in the end, how much everybody pulls together. It’s really heartwarming.”

Student council members Tallie Letourneau and Irene Joo, both in Grade 11, are helping to co-ordinate the Warm Hands Warm Hearts program, in which students bring donations to school and the winter wear is then distributed to Langley’s homeless.

“You would think because our school is so large that everyone is disassociated, but a lot of it is community based,” Joo said. “We have so many fundraisers to various needs that go from animal protection to families (needing) medical care.”

Letourneau said the school is very diverse and yet “everyone accepts each other.”

Leading the drive for youth-oriented gifts is Kennedy Montano, who last year helped launch a ‘Teens For Teens’ drive to collect gifts for her peer group.

“No one ever seems to donate to the teenagers,” she said. “It’s always people buying Barbies and Hot Wheels. We wanted to fix that. So we thought, ‘Hey, we’re teenagers, we could get some good gifts for teenagers.”

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