ELLENBURG DEPOT - Students in Pamela Boulerice's health class at Northern Adirondack Central School were recently challenged to initiate their own community service project as part of their classroom curriculum. The guidelines were simple - the students were to pick a project that not only gave something back, but taught them something in the process - as long as they had fun doing it.
"I think learning should be fun," explained Boulerice. "But, I wanted them to be able to plan their project, organize it and enhance their communications skills."
As a result, the students chose to take a field trip to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company factory in Shelburne, Vt. There, they made 17 teddy bears, paying for them with their own money, and arranging to donate them to local fire departments and emergency rescue squads.
The students presented the stuffed animals to members of the Ellenburg Depot, Ellenburg Center, Altona, Mooers, Lyon Mountain, West Chazy and Churubusco fire departments Jan. 30, much to the delight of the firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
Jason B. Goodspeed, a firefighter and EMT with the West Chazy Volunteer Fire Department, said he appreciated the donation. Having given stuffed animals to children on emergency calls before, the simple gifts are good icebreakers, he said.
"We do go on calls throughout the year, where kids are terrified when we show up. Once we hand them a bear, they're our best pals," he laughed. "They really enjoy them."
"We can always use these stuffed animals to help our younger patients feel safer and more secure in the ambulance," added Kim Bracy, with the Lyon Mountain Volunteer Fire Department. "This gives them some kind of comfort and they get to keep them, which is great."
Nathan J. LaBombard, with the Ellenburg Center Volunteer Fire Department, said the gesture was important to the departments, who appreciate all the support they can get.