Third grade teacher Talette Tootle has taken on a task from her heart. She and her third-grade students at Langston Chapel Elementary School make some very special Christmas cards to give to patients at Ogeechee Area Hospice in Statesboro.
She calls them "Cold Hands and Warm Hearts," for the cards are made of a heart-shaped background with a pair of mittens glued onto them, each of which has the child's actual hand prints on them. The boys made blue mittens and the girls pink.
Many of the cards are typical home-made Christmas cards. And although most of her students don't necessarily understand the idea of being terminally ill, they do understand the joy that Christmas cards bring.
Many contain sayings that run the gamut from "Have you been good this year?" to "What would you like Santa Claus to bring you this year?" Some of her students have written much deeper thoughts.
A few are very spiritual in nature, telling the recipient that "I am praying for you" or "You are in my prayers," while others contain heartfelt comments such as "I am so sorry that this may be your last Christmas."
Tootle believes her students learn valuable lessons in making the cards.
"Whereas most children are quite naturally thinking of what they would like for Christmas, these children have been encouraged to focus on what would make others in need happy," she said.
Tootle began her teaching career at Claxton Elementary, moving to Langston after one year, and is now finishing up her sixth year at the school.
From a personal perspective, Tootle's choice of a special Christmas activity has taken on an even much deeper meaning this year. Her father-in-law, David Tootle, became very ill, and passed away earlier this year while in the care of those at Ogeechee Area Hospice.
The activity is in line with the Bulloch County School system's policies. It follows the guidelines of Elementary School writing curriculum, and also teaches "Character Education."
Langston Chapel Principal Dr. Karen Doty said: "I think this is a wonderful idea. It combines teaching the children the true spirit of Christmas with undertaking classroom writing and drawing project that the kids enjoy doing."
Nancy Bryant, executive director for Ogeechee Area Hospice, said: "The cards are adorable, and they are especially meaningful to our patients and their families."