Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

Looking for the helpers…

on 4 July, 2013

**Update July 8. Wow, the support for this little project continues to overwhelm me in the best possible way. New stuff in italics, as always: 

  • Thanks to reader Margaret for this awesome idea – it’s like Operation Christmas Child, but for teachers! Sign up to fill a shoebox for a teacher!
  • Susanne received her first donation over the weekend, left on her front porch stealth-ninja style! All of this from just one generous person:

Susanne Delivery


  • If and you live in the greater Vancouver metro area, and are willing to deliver your donation to Delta,the amazing and generous Jan Kwasnicki is planning to load up her truck (and a trailer if necessary) and haul a load of supplies to High River in late August. You can read about her plans here, and contact her to make arrangements. Thank you, Jan – you are an angel.
  • In the comments below, Meredith in Ontario mentioned the possibility of teachers donating the gift cards that they received as year-end gifts – what an easy and brilliant idea! You can e-mail Susanne at ssharp@redeemer.ab.ca to get her mailing address if this is an idea that works for you. (If you are outside of Canada, your gift cards may not be valid here. Please check with the company before sending them.)
  • To get a really good visual of the extent of the flooding, you can see a couple of photos on the Chapters Adopt-A-School page. (they are below the map). Fair warning: they make my heart hurt every time I look at them. Imagine YOUR school, up past the window sills, in muddy water…
  • Please, PLEASE continue to spread the word. With it being summertime, people may not be checking e-mail/Facebook/Twitter as often as they normally do, and so occasionally repeating yourself may be a good idea. If you have a blog, feel free to write a short post with a link to send your readers over here. If you know a business who may be able to help, send them my way, too!
  • And finally: thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are all amazing, and I am so blessed to be able to be a part of this generosity. Thank you.

*Updated, July 5: WOW! Thank you so much for the response on this. Please keep spreading the word. I knew I knew the best helpers out there! A few notes:

  • A few of you have mentioned that you have had trouble with the links to contact Susanne. She can be reached by e-mail at ssharp@redeemer.ab.ca. If clicking the e-mail address doesn’t work, you should be able to just copy-paste it into your e-mail program. Thank you SO MUCH for wanting to help!
  • There have been a few updates to the ways that you can help. I have added them in italics below. Huge thanks to Chapters/Indigo, who have also stepped up to help with this huge project.

Ok, so. You all read my teaser post from earlier today. If you didn’t it, I’m gonna need you to take a minute and go back and read it. Seriously. Go read it. I’ll wait.

You read it? You thought about it? Ok, let’s carry on.

As many of you know, my city and the surrounding area was devastated by flooding, just 2 weeks ago. One of the hardest hit communities was the town of High River, about an hour south of The City.  The entire town was evacuated, and people were out of their homes for over a week. Some of those homes are still underwater. Many of them will be condemned as uninhabitable. The damage is… catastrophic, and makes my heart pound just writing about it.

Of course, in that town, there are schools. One of them is Holy Spirit Academy, a Catholic elementary school. The building itself has survived, but the contents… Well, all of those teachers just lost ALL of their stuff. All their tools. All their toys. All their treasures. Many of those teachers have also lost their homes. Many of those teachers will be teaching students who have lost their homes. Yeah, think about THAT for a minute.

Yesterday, through the magic of the interwebz, I got to meet Susanne Sharp, a grade one teacher at Holy Spirit. Susanne is one of the lucky ones – she doesn’t live in High River, so her house is safe and intact, and she still gets to live in it. Suzanne posted an online classified ad, hoping for help re-stocking her classroom. My favourite auntie saw her ad, forwarded it to me. At first I thought “yes! I can totally help her! I have books and toys and borders and things that I don’t need! I will give them to her!”

Now picture it… underwater.

And then, I thought… wait. If her classroom was ruined, so were other classrooms. That’s A LOT of teachers who need A LOT of stuff… And then I thought… wait! I know A LOT Of people! People who are teachers, people who have big hearts and big ideas, people who have repeatedly asked how they can help with the flood relief efforts, even from far away! An e-mail to Susanne confirmed: yes, their whole school was flooded. EVERYBODY has lost all their stuff. Yes, they need help.

And so here is what I want us to do, friends: I want us to help re-stock Susanne’s school. It is a K-6, Catholic school, with 3 or 4 classes of each grade level. The entire school does CAFE and Daily 5. In addition to the classroom “stuff,” the entire contents of the school library have been lost. The school district will deal with textbooks and furniture, but teachers will need:

  • toys
  • games
  • puzzles
  • math manipulatives
  • literacy supplies
  • BOOKS! Lots and lots and lots of BOOKS for kids at every level
  • cleaning supplies
  • art supplies
  • craft supplies
  • puppets
  • classroom decor
  • visual supports (calendars, anchor charts, vocabulary charts, etc etc etc)
  • Storage baskets and bins

Here is what you can do:

FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT: Spread the word. Send every teacher (or teacher-supporter) you know to this post so they can help, too. Share this post on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, re-blog it, pin it ALL OVER Pinterest, e-mail it to everyone you know who might help. Also: BOOKMARK THIS POST, because I have a feeling there could be updates on a regular basis.



  • MY #1 RECOMMENDATION: Buy a Scholar’s Choice Gift Card here. Scholar’s Choice stepped up to help with this effort as soon as I contacted them, and they have been amazing, positive, and so, so, helpful. Note that their gift cards come in $10 increments, so if you want to give more than $10, you need to change the quantity of cards. If you have ANY trouble ordering online, please do not hesitate to call them and do the transaction by phone, their staff are WONDERFUL. To order from Scholar’s Choice, you will need to contact Susanne first, to get her address. You can also, of course, order merchandise from Scholar’s Choice!
  • The Shawnessy (Calgary) location of Chapters/Indigo has adopted Holy Spirit Academy, and is accepting online donations to replenish the school library as well as classroom libraries. You can find the Adopt-A-School page here.
  • Buy a gift card, books, toys,  or other good stuff from Chapters/Indigo. Chapters/Indigo gift cards can be delivered directly to Susanne via e-mail, at ssharp@redeemer.ab.ca, merchandise will need a shipping address.
  • Buy an IKEA Gift card, and have it mailed to Susanne. To order from IKEA, you will need to contact Susanne first, to get her address.
  • Buy a gift card, games, or toys from ToysRUs Canada. Toys R Us gift cards can be delivered directly to Susanne via e-mail at ssharp@redeemer.ab.ca, merchandise will need a shipping address.


  • Buy gift cards for: Target, Wal-Mart,  or Dollarama, and mail them to Susanne (contact her for the mailing address). Alas, none of these companies do online gift card purchases, so you have to actually buy a physical card and mail it. Also: Even though these companies exist in the US, their gift cards are not transferable between countries – a Target card bought at a US Target store, or online at the US Target site, CANNOT be used in a Canadian Target store.


  •  Contact Susanne to get shipping & delivery information. If you’re in the area, you can deliver to her in person, or get her address to have things mailed/shipped. (I know this goes without saying, but items should be new or gently used, in very good condition.)

Susanne is willing to do all of the sorting/organizing/dividing up of supplies and donations as they arrive. Since HER SCHOOL IS UNDERWATER, she will be doing it from her home address, and she is understandably cautious about having that posted on the interwebz. I know that contacting her to get shipping/mailing information adds an extra step, but I’m sure you can understand the reasons.

Phew, ok, I think that covers it. If you think I missed anything, or if you have ANY questions at all, please let me know in the comments. I want to make sure this is as easy as possible for everyone.

Because, you guys: I really think we can do this. I really think that I know enough wonderful people, who know enough wonderful people, that we can re-stock A WHOLE SCHOOL. But I need your help. I need A LOT of help, from A LOT of you.

But it seems to me… helping is what we do best, right?


If you are part of a company or organization who may be able to help, please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

31 Responses to “Looking for the helpers…”

  1. […] So. You all have been following along as we try to re-stock Holy Spirit Academy, a High River elementary school, wiped out by flooding. The response as been amazing, and if you […]

  2. […] Sometimes all it takes is a reason to push one’s shyness aside and dig in. I saw this tweet about a school searching for supplies for their classroom, and the photos are so sad. I was lucky […]

  3. Meredith says:

    I just posted a link to this page on our school board site in Sudbury, ON. I am encouraging teachers to send their unused gift cards that we got as gifts in June. What a good idea! I also plan on doing something with my students in September to help give back.

    • Miss Night says:

      Thank you so much, Meredith. I love the idea of sending gift cards – so many teachers have them in their wallets RIGHT NOW!

      • Meredith says:

        I can’t make any promises – but it would be nice to think that some people will send them. I didn’t get any – but will buy one. Any word from scholastic. I know in my desk I have a bunch of bonus coupons.

  4. wow…I founded my Calgary based Flood Relief donation group the night the flood hit southern Alberta, Canadian Couponers Donate to Help Other, https://www.facebook.com/groups/187246498103937/……..It never ever, even crossed my mind..all this mayhem!!
    I am so devastated, and in tears at the thought of that school library being destroyed. As an ex school librarian for Saint Sylvester Elementary School, from the Calgary Catholic School Board, I prided myself on my elementary school library. IT was my sanctuary!! My home away from home!! Reading this has knocked me sideways..I feel terrible for the school , and in particular for their librarian..who has to be devastated.. we take so long to build up collections suitable for the students, curriculum content, for teachers to use in class, budgets are never on our side..I remember in one year increasing the inventory by 1000 books, by such hard work, Months of staying late to do all the cataloging, running all over the place to find Catholic saints books for the Grade 5 students, Medieval content for Grade five, Forestry books for Grade 6, early readers for the students that were struggling to read, interesting visuals and illustrations to entice those that would flip past all the boring text books with pages of boring words, in their eyes.. Feeling proud when I realised that all my hard work was paying off and teachers and students were increasing their usage of the library..the core of the school!! …
    .I wish, I wish, now to see what I am able to do to try to help as well.
    I am also a known as ABCouponer, a blogger and have a public fan page. Will see how we can also help out to re establish the school library.
    I am now going to turn to the one group that I am also adminstrator of, https://www.facebook.com/groups/154605514608658/ Raycraft Book Collection, AS book lovers we all last year took part in a week long massive effort to rescue, and redistribute 350,000 books that were destined to be burned. Please do join the group to read what we did. I am hoping that some of the members there might be able to pitch in to also help.
    Together as a community, close and from afar, all across Canada, there is the most amazing support..we will continue to help you all to recover.
    All the best of wishes from Marie-Anne Levert, Calgary

  5. Tammi Somerville says:

    Hi teachers,
    Reading this has brought tears to eyes eyes! I have worked in this school as a substitute teacher and know many of the teachers and have been in many of their rooms. . . .the things we fill our rooms with impact the hearts and lives of the children that fill the space. I have been collecting books and will continue to fill my garage with what I have and find to pass along. May Gods blessings be on you and may He fill everyone’s heart with the hope He provides especially in such a time as this.

  6. Susanne says:

    Amy, words can not express how I feel about this. The generosity is amazing. Thank you SO much for writing this for us… I am glad you found me and approached me about your fantastic idea.
    Thank you thank you thank you, everyone!

  7. ML says:

    Hi Amy –
    I contacted Susanne last week – and all our K-6 teachers at our school in Calgary are starting to gather items for their classrooms. I’m switching grades next year so all my Grade 1 stuff is heading to her.
    Together we can get them most of the important supplies they will need. Thanks so much for getting this going online!
    Talk soon,
    Mary Lynn

  8. Hey, Amy!

    I LOVE your idea! Together we truly ARE stronger … together we CAN make a difference. Thank you for being a light in the dark … for being a helper. I have just sent off two indigo cards worth $75.00 … my students will LOVE knowing that their gifts are going to a very WORTHY cause … helping to be the best FOR the world!


    Laurie 🙂 (@RentonL)

  9. Shauna Baillie says:

    Thank you very much for your generosity. We truly appreciate all the love and support that is being sent our way.

    • Miss Night says:

      Shauna, you are so welcome. I am so glad that Susanne and I found each other, and that the opportunity to help fell into my lap. Please know that Calgary is hold High River in our hearts. xoxo

  10. Michelle Bechthold says:

    I want to help. I posted your link on FB. (I work at Bearspaw). Would you take used stuff? I am close enough to get some to you if I can gather up any. Also… have you contacted Wintergreen, or any of the big educational companies that outfit schools with nice games and stuff? What about outside education stores like those in Red Deer and Edmonton. Education Station comes to mind, as well as the internet sight Really Good Stuff (I know for sure they did a fundraiser for Sandyhook). These companies might make a corporate donation, or do a fundraiser for you like Really Good Stuff did.

    • Miss Night says:

      Hi Michelle
      They would be DELIGHTED to accept gently used stuff! You can contact Susanne at ssharp@redeemer.ab.ca to get delivery information. Thank you so much. Great minds must think alike, because it is on my list for today to contact Wintergreen, Really Good Stuff, etc. Scholar’s Choice and Chapters have already stepped up and responded – the world is so full of good people!

      • Stephanie says:

        Hi There! What about the Education Station (in Edmonton) I know that they come to Calgary for teacher’s convention! I will be going up to Edmonton this coming weekend and a few more weekends throughout the summer, I am more than willing to transport items back! Even if they would let us set up a “item donation box” sort of like the food bank boxes….As August hits I’m sure the boxes would fill.

        • Miss Night says:

          Great minds think alike, Stephanie! I have contacted Education Station and am waiting to hear from them. As soon as I do, I will post the information here. Thank you for your offer to help w/transportation – we may just take you up on that!

  11. Any way to post a different link to Susanne’s contact info? The one included tried to format Outlook and that’s not working on my computer and my summer holiday brain can’t figure out a way around that.

  12. Jillian Deagle says:

    This just brought tears to my eyes! The compassion and generosity… Wow! I teach with Suzanne at Holy Spirit as well and though times are certainly tough right now, people like you really make us feel better about the world we live in. Bless your heart!

  13. Jaclyn Alexander says:

    You are simply amazing! I’m a teacher from HSA on maternity leave right now. When I left for the year, I took all of my favourites with me…my book collection, my resources and my irreplaceable collection of love notes from my students over the years. I’ve been racking my brain on how I, just one person (with newborn twins), can help my colleagues with the devastating loss of their classrooms and all their “stuff”. I applaud you for getting the ball rolling! As a teaching community, I know we can come together and lift up this school, it’s staff and students. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to post this blog.

    • Miss Night says:

      Jaclyn, it is my honour and pleasure to have a way to help. There is SO MUCH work to be done in our corner of the world right now; for me, doing this is EASY, and I have a feeling it is going to be pretty fun, too! Tell your colleagues that people are sending love from all over the world, and that we will do everything we can to make sure they are well-equipped for the first day back to school! xoxo

  14. I am wondering if teachers here in Canada could donate their Scholastic Canada “Bonus Bank” credits?

    • Miss Night says:

      Hi Jill!

      Great minds think alike! I have asked Scholastic this very question, and am waiting to hear from them. I will post the news as soon as I get it, so keep checking back! Thank you so much for wanting to help, and for spreading the word.

      • Brennan says:

        You can’t donate your credits but new this summer, you can have your order delivered to an alternate address. You need to phone 1-800-268-3860 before you place your order. I think you need to add this as possible ways to donate. I have colleagues who have ridiculous amounts of credits and don’t know how to spend them. My wife and I are both teachers and are going to send our unused gift cards to Chapters, buy things via Scholastic, and join your Santa club. Thank you so much for starting this. It warms my heart reading all the responses. I have added this to my list of reasons I love being a teacher!

        • Miss Night says:

          Hi Brennan
          Thank sos much for this great suggestion. I have been in touch with Scholastic to see if they would set up a way for teachers to donate their bonus credits, but in the meantime, delivery to an alternate address is a great idea. I will add this when I update this post tonight! (I’ve learned that one update per day is the best plan!) Thank you so much for your generosity and enthusiasm. Much love.

  15. Gift card ordered and reposted. Hope they are flooded with “stuff” and love.

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