A group of local fifth graders have come together to make necklaces to raise money for Leila Bui.
Like many, Oaklands Elementary School vice principal Amei Mai was touched by the story of Bui, who was left bound to a wheelchair and non-responsive as a result of being hit by a car in 2017.
“To have something so devastating happen to a family is powerful for me as a teacher but I can only imagine that it would resonate with this crowd as well,” says Mai as she points to her environmental studies class.
Mai wanted to help Leila and her family this holiday season, so she looked to her fifth-grade environmental studies class with an idea.
She gathered Arbutus berries and gave them to her students to craft into necklaces. The project took off.
“Before you knew it we were collecting and collecting berries and we just kept collecting them and the project kind of snowballed and got more exciting,” says Mai. “Then it turned into grade 1’s needing to help and then Grade three’s started beading a few necklaces so we got the whole outdoor ed committee involved,” laughs Mai.
The end result was 75 necklaces that were sold throughout Victoria. Together the students raised $450 and got the chance to present the money to Leila and her family.
It was an emotional moment.
“Just to have another support it just touches us really deeply, I can’t even express it,” says Kairry Nguyen, Leila’s mum. “We’ve just had this tremendous love and support from not only our family and friends but just community as a whole has made us stronger,” Nguyen adds.
It’s also brought Amei’s fifth-grade class closer together.
“It’s a really beautiful chrysalis and a beautiful transformation of a bunch of kids who just started coming together and helping their community,” smiles Mai.