RED DEER, Alberta – Aside from spending more time with their families in the time of Covid-19, school-age cousins Emilia Penton and Nacho Trinidad are learning the value of helping the ones in need.
The cousins, six- and seven-year-olds, respectively, donated the proceeds from selling their favorite toys to help in relief operations by Migrante Alberta to members of the Filipino community affected by the Covid-19.
After their initial success, the cousins have been making their own candies, cookies and chocolates to sell, first to their extended families, giving up their treats to earn more money for donation.
Rea Trinidad-Penton, mother of Emilia or Lia, has always kept the line open to the kids when it comes to family conversations.
Rea, who originally was from San Juan, Manila, moved to Canada 15 years ago and has lived with her husband, Tim, who is Metis.
“We always encouraged Lia and Nacho to participate in our family conversations and share their views. So when we were talking about people who got affected by Covid-19 and how we could help, they were on board with it,” said Rea in an email interview with INQUIRER.net
The cousins were quick to say, “we could give them money!” she added. “That is when I started inviting their curiosity on how they can find ways to raise their own money.”
Rea said it was the cousins’ idea to sell things to earn money however, they had said they would sell the old toys they don’t like. Lea countered that in order to sell fast they had to let go of some of their nicer toys.
“That is when they started identifying their nicer toys like the big doll house, a bicycle and favorite books to sell,” she said.
While observing social distancing and public safety measures, the cousins have been enjoying playing their instruments, trumpet for Nacho and piano for Lia, in addition to making crafts and with summer finally coming, biking gardening and playing outside.
The two remain on top of their schoolwork and attending online classes delivered by Suzuki Charter School in Edmonton City, where Lia is in Grade 1 and Nacho, in Grade 2.
The items the two posted on social media quickly got sold but the hardest part, Rea said, was when the kids were looking out the window as the buyers took their stuff one by one. “But that all changed when they saw all the money they had collected – their eyes lit up!” said Rea.
When asked how they felt, Nacho said, “I was happy selling toys so other kids can have fun,” with Lia chiming in, “We gave money to help strangers.”
To see a strong sense of community already budding in youngsters is heartwarming, said Cynthia Palmaria, Migrante Alberta organizer.
“Being able to look beyond their needs as kids and sacrificing something precious to them so that they can share with others is a virtue that we try to instill in our kids, Lia and Nacho’s family has exemplified that,” she said.
In Edmonton, the group has reached out to families of Filipino temporary foreign workers, undocumented Filipinos, seniors and others who have needed assistance, by delivering grocery cards and food supplies. The group has also partnered with Filipino caterers who were sponsored by local businesses to bring cooked meals to front liners in senior homes and hospitals.
In Calgary, the group has been actively bringing food supplies to workers affected in Brooks and High River where two meat plants have been sources of widespread Covid-19 infections.
Filipinos are feeling the economic impact of working less hours and fewer jobs because of the pandemic, limiting their sources of income, said Palmaria.
For the Pentons, the least they could do for their fellow Filipinos is to help them feel supported and uplifted.
“Many of them are currently concerned about having to work in unsafe conditions if they have a job to go to at all. It’s so encouraging how Filipino nonprofits and businesses, as well as the Filipino community as a whole, have been so supportive of people affected by the pandemic here in Alberta,” said Rea.
Lia has already planned another fundraising activity. “As part of her school project, she will grow sugar crystals, turn them into colorful lollipops and then sell them for donation,” she said.
Asked to give their message to other kids, Lia said, “I hope they get healed and have a great time with their family. I hope they get lots of love and are blessed.” “Let’s donate more toys so kids in need can be happy and have a fun summer!” said Nacho.
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