British Columbia

Donations pour in after Vancouver teacher's plea

An East Vancouver teacher has prompted a suprising response after writing an open letter calling attention to the desperate poverty some of her young students must endure.

A teacher's plea

11 years ago
Duration 2:03
Vancouver teacher Carrie Gelson wrote a letter asking friends to help her students, and people across Canada responded, CBC's Belle Puri reports

An East Vancouver elementary school teacher has generated a surprising response after writing an open letter calling attention to the desperate poverty of some of her young students. 

Carrie Gelson, who teaches seven- and eight-year-old children at Admiral Seymour Elementary School on Keefer Street, has received thousands of dollars in donations after revealing in the letter that some of her students constantly arrive at school late, hungry, without socks and with shoes that are falling apart.

Gelson said she wrote the letter after a particularly frustrating recent day in her Grade 2 classroom.

"I think I was feeling a little overwhelmed, cause I have a little boy [student] who's like, 'Ms. Gelson you said you're getting me shoes right?' Because I said I could probably find them," she said.

"Someone had promised me the right size of shoes for him and he'd asked me that morning and I hadn't them yet and it was raining."

Gelson said she also feels she has to bring snacks for some of her students

"When I have five kids who ask and four crackers each, you can see that my stack of five crackers doesn't go far," she said.

She dips into the snack drawer for the students several times a day.

The letter was written to raise awareness about the plight of inner city children, and originally was just circulated among her friends — some of whom put it on the internet. It has since spread to blogs and other postings online.

The impact quickly moved some people to try to help.

"One person came to the school and handed my principal $1,500 cash," Gelson said.

A woman brought Gelson some socks — and a $1,000 cheque Monday.

"I happened to be shopping [Sunday] and saw Carrie's call for help and just thought I'd drop [the socks] off, along with the cheque," said donor Linda Murray.

Calls offering help have been flooding into the school’s office are coming from as far away as Edmonton.

With files from the CBC's Belle Puri