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North Van teacher applauds her philanthropic students in moving letter

December 19, 2022


Paul Butler, of North Shore Youths Safe House, and teacher Marta Orellana with the collected gifts for the youth shelter. | Marta Orellana

By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, North Shore News.

One North Vancouver teacher is singing the praises of her class after they conceptualized and carried out their own successful charity event – raising over $600 for the North Shore Youth Safe House.

Marta Orellana, a French Immersion Grade 5/6 teacher at École Dorothy Lynas Elementary, was blown away when her altruistic students took it upon themselves to organize a fundraising hot chocolate stand for youths in need. 

The group made reindeer hot cocoa bags in class, made announcements and posters to spread awareness of their endeavour, and then sold the festive creations out of their classroom.

They racked up $640 in donations and spent the funds raised on essentials that included new pyjamas, socks, underwear, hats, hygiene products and snacks for the youth shelter, with students’ families also donating gifts to those in need.

“We reached out to our community and the students’ enthusiasm was contagious, so many businesses jumped on board to be a part of the giving,” said Orellana.

“The class mobilized and inspired an entire community to support these teens in a tough place. I am so proud of them.”

Orellana said Paul Butler, the director of the Safe House, had provided the students with a wish list but was brought to tears when he picked up the haul of Christmas gifts.

“It was the most heartwarming gift we could have received, giving to others,” she said.

“It was so moving and special.”


The French Immersion Grade 5 and 6 class from Ecole Dorothy Lynas School came together to put together a festive fundraiser, raising over $600. | Marta Orellana

Here is the letter from Orellana in full:

Dear Editor:


I just wanted to send you an uplifting story that you could hopefully publish.

I’m a teacher at Ecole Dorothy Lynas School in North Vancouver. My French Immersion Grade 5/6 class has spearheaded an initiative to sponsor ten youths staying at the North Shore Youth Safe House.

The students thought of and organised a reindeer hot cocoa sale.

In class, students made little reindeer hot cocoa bags, made announcements, and posters, and sold them out of our classroom. They made $640! With that money, they bought supplies such as new pyjamas, socks, underwear, hygiene products, snacks, hats, etc.

Students’ families donated so many items as well.

We reached out to our community, and the students’ enthusiasm was contagious…so many businesses jumped on board to be a part of the giving.

This class mobilized and inspired an entire community to support these teens in a tough place. I am so proud of them.

My hope was that my students learn that anyone can make a difference; all you need to do is take action. But their dedication to this project showed me that our future is in good hands with change-makers like this in our community!

I am including photos of what they’ve prepared, photos of us, and some photos with Mr. Paul Butler, the director of the Safe House. He provided us with a wish list, which we fulfilled, and he came to collect the gifts today. He was brought to tears and told the students how much they inspired him.

It was the most heartwarming gift we could have received…giving to others. It was so moving and special.

I hope you consider including their successful charitable work in the North Shore News.

It was truly a community effort :)

Marta Orellana
École Dorothy Lynas Elementary