Story time for Bev Marisco’s Grade 1 class at Georgia Park Elementary went a little differently on Wednesday.
Gathered on the carpet of their classroom Wednesday morning, the students heard their visitor, Doug McCorquodale, begin by telling the story of having to travel from their home in Port Hardy to Victoria, where his newborn daughter was in hospital for an extended stay.
The McCorquodale family stayed at Jeneece Place when they were in Victoria, and he asked the class if they knew what that is. No hands went up.
So he told them the story of a young girl who raised over $1.5 million in pennies to help the children of B.C. and the house that was built in her honour for families of children in hospital to stay at in Victoria. The home opened its doors in 2012 and is operated by the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island (CHFVI). That same year also saw the publication of Island Santa, published by the CHFVI.
Every family that stays at Jeneece Place receives a free copy of the book, and on Wednesday, every child in Marisco’s Grade 1 class was getting one, as well.
Island Santa is based on the true story of Kaare Norgaard, who turned his boat, the Blue Fjord, into a vessel for distributing Christmas gifts to the children of remote island communities.
In the story, a child named Sam wants to get to Victoria to be with his father and sister in Victoria for Christmas. His sister is being treated in the hospital, and they are staying at Jeneece Place. So Sam has to hop aboard the Santa Boat in order to get there. Along the way, Sam learns the true meaning of Christmas while helping “Santa” deliver presents.
Marisco’s class was part of the distribution of 1,457 copies of Island Santa to children in 40 schools across Vancouver Island.
McCorquodale says this is the last year the book will be available in print form.
They may still be available at local bookstores or by ordering them online, but once they’re gone, they will only be available electronically. For more about Island Santa, Jeneece Place or any of the other initiatives and projects by the CHFVI at childrenshealthvi.org